Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says the province will take Ottawa to court if it imposes a carbon-pricing plan.
Environment minister Catherine McKenna last week released a technical discussion paper that outlines what the federal government would implement if the province doesn’t come up with a plan of its own.
“This federal government white paper is frankly more like a ransom note,” Wall said.
“It’s the federal government saying, ‘Here is what you’re going to do from a public policy perspective, or this is what will be forced on the economy and the taxpayers in Saskatchewan.’ And we’re going to fight it in court.”
But McKenna said Ottawa is within its rights to implement the plan. It includes a $10 per tonne tax on carbon beginning in 2018, rising to $50 by 2022.
It will tax fossil fuels and eventually large industrial emitters who either have to pay or trade credits.
Similar to Alberta’s plan, there will be exemptions on farm fuel.
McKenna said four out of five Canadians already live in provinces that have carbon plans — Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
All other provinces have committed to developing their own plans, except Saskatchewan.
McKenna said she’s had at least a dozen meetings with provincial environment minister Scott Moe and noted the province’s progressive nature.
“It’s the province that brought in universal health care,” she told reporters. “I know people in Saskatchewan care greatly about our environment.”
But Wall argues now is not the right time to tax economies that are just beginning to recover from the downturn in the energy sector.
And he questioned how a tax that Ottawa says would be returned to the province changes peoples’ behaviour.
Ottawa is accepting comments on the discussion paper until June 30. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.