Court: carbon tax constitutional – Moe confirms appeal

Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal says the federal carbon tax is constitutionally sound.  |  File photo

UPDATED – May 3, 2019 1350 CST – Saskatchewan will appeal the court decision that found Ottawa has the authority to impose a carbon tax.

Premier Scott Moe said the 3-2 split among the opinions of the five justices makes for a strong argument.

“We will be closely reviewing today’s ruling and it will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada,” he told reporters May 3.

“There are strong grounds for an appeal.”

Agricultural organizations said they support that move.

Saskatchewan argued before the court in February that the provinces should have authority over carbon emissions, not the federal government. Its lawyers said the carbon tax, which came into effect April 1, is unfair.

In a written decision, a majority of judges on the panel determined that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was “not unconstitutional in whole or in part.” A minority found the act was “wholly unconstitutional.”

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association said it supports taking further court action, noting that the federal carbon tax impacts farmers’ bottom lines.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, which had intervener status in the case, said it will continue to advocate for policies that don’t harm the sector.

“The justices may have been split on this issue, but producers are not,” said president Todd Lewis.

Dean Harder is an National Farmers Union Board Member and said that group did not stand entirely opposed to the federal initiative.

Ontario has launched its own court challenge and Manitoba has said it will do the same.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said that province disagrees with the narrow ruling and would join Saskatchewan at the Supreme Court.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna called the ruling a success for all Canadians and the next generation.

She urged conservative politicians to stop arguing about the tax and work together against climate change.

She said Canadians don’t have a choice.

“The court also recognized, as most Canadians do as well, that climate change is caused by human activity,” she said.

“It’s one of the main existential issues that we face.”

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