Report from the Legislature – August 8, 2018

After two years of telling us that a carbon tax would not affect Canada’s competitiveness and hurt our economy, the federal government has finally admitted that it will.

The Trudeau government recently announced that they will now reduce the amount of tax companies are required to pay on their greenhouse gas emissions.

This new, watered-down carbon tax scheme is still a carbon tax that does nothing for the environment, reduces jobs, and takes money from families.

In March of 2016, the Prime Minister said he would be willing to work on climate change with Canada’s premiers “in the spirit of co-operation and collaboration”. A few months later, his government announced that they would be imposing a carbon tax on every province in Canada.

Today, two or perhaps three provinces are actually in compliance with the federal carbon-pricing plan; Ontario has now joined Saskatchewan in challenging Trudeau’s carbon tax in court; and a number of the remaining provinces and territories will not be in compliance.

We accept that climate change is happening, and humans are contributing to the warming of our planet. We’re fighting the carbon tax because a carbon tax doesn’t work. No jurisdiction in the world has imposed a carbon tax and seen a reduction in greenhouse gases because of that tax.

A made-in-Ottawa carbon tax will impact Saskatchewan’s economy to the tune of $1.8 billion annually while only marginally reducing carbon emissions. It is our intent to fight this tax with every means at our disposal.

Our court challenge has moved forward with the filing of our constitutional argument. It is our position that under the Canadian constitution, provinces are sovereign in their assigned areas of jurisdiction. Therefore, the federal carbon tax is constitutionally illegitimate because it applies only in provinces that have not exercised their own jurisdiction in a way that the federal government thinks they should.

It is our position that the federal government has no constitutional authority to second guess provincial decisions with respect to matters within provincial jurisdiction, yet that is exactly what the federal government is attempting to do by imposing a carbon tax only in certain provinces, like Saskatchewan, based on their evaluation of provincial climate change and carbon pricing policies.

A new poll by The Angus Reid Institute shows overwhelming support for Saskatchewan’s court challenge of the Trudeau carbon tax. 88% of Saskatchewan people – and 72% of all Canadians – support our government taking the federal carbon tax issue to court. Unsurprisingly, the move to challenge federal jurisdiction receives near unanimous support here in Saskatchewan.

Meanwhile, Ryan Meili and the Saskatchewan NDP remain completely out of touch and out of step with the people of our province. Content to wave the white flag and let Justin Trudeau force his ineffective tax on Saskatchewan, the NDP are actually calling our court challenge a “pointless crusade”.

We have always said that the provinces should decide for themselves what works best when it comes to addressing climate change. The federal government would be well advised to take a step back, reassess, and reconsider its one-size-fits-all carbon tax. It’s time to give the provinces the freedom to develop climate change policies that actually work, without a federal carbon tax.