Report from the Legislature – April 26, 2018

The Government of Saskatchewan has launched a constitutional reference case in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to challenge the federal government’s ability to impose a carbon tax on the province.

The government is asking the Court of Appeal to answer a clear question on the constitutionality of the legislation that the federal government has introduced to impose the carbon tax.

The question is:
The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was introduced into Parliament on March 28, 2018 as Part 5 of Bill C-74. If enacted, will this Act be unconstitutional in whole or in part?

We do not believe the federal government has the constitutional right to impose the Trudeau carbon tax on Saskatchewan, against the wishes of the government and the people.

This federal tax fails to respect the sovereignty and autonomy of the provinces with respect to matters under their jurisdiction. Simply put, we do not believe the federal government has the right to impose a tax on one province but not others just because they don’t like our climate change plan.

Under the constitution, each level of government is sovereign within its own legislative realm. Provincial governments have the authority to set policy in areas of provincial jurisdiction, and the federal government does not have the right to override that provincial authority.

The Government of Saskatchewan released Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy in December 2017. The strategy includes:

  • the development of sector-specific output-based performance standards on large emitting facilities;
  • increasing efficiencies in buildings;
  • creating a freight strategy to improve delivery times, reducing fuel and increasing efficiency; and
  • developing a climate resiliency model to help ensure communities are able to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change.

Our made-in-Saskatchewan strategy is broader and bolder than a carbon tax. Our plan includes reducing emissions from the electricity sector by 40 per cent and methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030.

Our Saskatchewan story also includes our agriculture industry that sequesters nearly 12 million tonnes of CO2 annually and carbon capture at Boundary Dam 3 that has prevented two million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. Saskatchewan is the solution, not the problem.

Our government will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan against the Trudeau government’s costly and ineffective carbon tax, while pursuing real emission reductions and protecting jobs in the province.

Our government will always stand up for Saskatchewan and that includes ensuring the Trans Mountain pipeline gets built.

Access to overseas markets is critical to getting the world price for Canadian crude oil and ending the significant discounting of Canadian crude oil. The status quo cost Saskatchewan oil producers an estimated $2.6 billion and the province an estimated $210 million in taxes, royalties and other revenue last year.

Pipelines are acknowledged as the most efficient and the safest method of transporting large volumes of crude oil. We are confident that federally-approved and properly-regulated pipelines can be constructed and operated in a manner that protects both the environment and public health and safety.

The expansion of our national pipeline capacity is vital to the future of our energy sector and to thousands of Canadian jobs. It must not be obstructed, either by a lack of federal leadership or by a provincial government overstepping.

We find ourselves in gridlock today because, in the 18 months since the federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, it has failed to ensure that construction could proceed.

Our government has introduced Bill 126, The Energy Export Act, which creates the legislative framework necessary to optimize the value of Saskatchewan’s oil, gas, and refined petroleum products by establishing a permitting process to export such products outside the province.

Similar in intent to legislation recently introduced by the Government of Alberta, Bill 126 is a last resort that will be used only if the Trans Mountain pipeline continues to be stalled by provincial obstruction and federal inaction, and if the Alberta government acts upon its legislation.

Oil doesn’t stop moving when pipelines are opposed – instead it moves on rail or by truck. Increasing pipeline access to tidewater would inject billions of dollars into Canada’s economy. Aspiring to greater energy independence is a priority for Saskatchewan and should always be a priority for the nation of Canada.