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Saskatchewan lawyers claim federal carbon tax is unconstitutional in first court appearance

Along with Saskatchewan and Ontario, the province of New Brunswick is also joining the judicial challenge of the federal carbon tax plan.

The provincial government of Saskatchewan has taken the federal Liberals to court over what they call an “unconstitutional” carbon tax which comes in effect on April 1st.

The first appearance took place in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal on February 13th.

Lawyers representing the province of Saskatchewan argued that the federal government doesn’t have the power to impose a tax regime in the province. Lawyer Mitch McAdam pointed to the inconsistency of forcing a tax only on those provinces that haven’t created a carbon pricing plan of their own.

In the province, support for the carbon plan is the lowest nationwide. A recent poll by Angus Reid shows that in October 2018, only 29 per cent of people in the province supported the tax even with the announced rebates.

Soon after the Liberal government announced that it would impose a federal carbon tax on the provinces up to $50 a tonne by 2022, several premiers have challenged it politically and now judicially.

A University of Regina study shows that the federal carbon tax could potentially reduce Saskatchewan’s GDP by $16 billion while having a negligible effect on Canada’s carbon emissions.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford was the first to challenge the carbon tax as unconstitutional.

“The federal carbon tax will eliminate jobs and make life more difficult for families, seniors and everyone who works hard to get ahead in Ontario and across our country,” said Ford in a news release.

Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe, echoed Premier Ford’s concerns.

“We are thankful for the support of Premier Ford and Premier Higgs, and the people of Ontario and New Brunswick, for intervening in our case against this unconstitutional and harmful federally imposed carbon tax,” said Scott Moe.

“Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney have shown great leadership in introducing a constitutional challenge against this job killing carbon tax, and Saskatchewan is proud to stand with the people of Ontario in this fight.

Along with Saskatchewan and Ontario, the province of New Brunswick is also joining the judicial challenge of the federal carbon tax plan.

The United Conservative Association, SaskPower/SaskEnergy, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and the International Emissions Trading Association are also present as interveners on behalf of the province in the court challenge.

During the first court appearance, an intervener for the United Conservative Party of Alberta stated that the carbon tax directly threatens Canadian federalism.

“It’s the position of the United Conservative Association that allowing Canada to expand its constitutional powers at the expense of the provinces will upset the balance of federalism in Canada,” said lawyer, Ryan Martin.

Lawyers on the side of Saskatchewan argued their case citing that the government doesn’t have the jurisdiction to implement a tax in selective parts of the country.

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