Saskatchewan’s carbon tax case at Supreme Court today

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Saskatchewan and the federal government have refined their arguments since, as they prepare for Game 7. But the questions remain, more or less, the same. They hinge on defining what the federal Act is really trying to do.

In its written submissions to the Supreme Court, Saskatchewan said it’s about regulating the sources of provincial emissions, a power “virtually limitless in scope and cover an enormous range of activities falling within exclusive provincial jurisdiction.” It says that would centralize power in Ottawa and deprive Saskatchewan of the right to design a climate plan that fits local conditions.

But the federal government counters that it only wants power to set “minimum national standards integral to reducing nationwide GHG emissions,” and no more. It thinks that leaves plenty of space for the provinces. It notes that they can’t set national standards themselves, risking a “race to the bottom.” Leaving Ottawa without that power would punch “a gaping hole in the Constitution.” 

“We would be a country incapable of enforcing the measures necessary to address an existential threat,” the federal submission says.

Whatever the court decides, its ruling will be the end of the legal battle, though not the political fight. Morgan called the Supreme Court “a final appeal within the nation.” He said Saskatchewan will be watching with “a great deal of interest.”

He said the province will take the result, sit down with the feds and make an offer to find a way forward.

with files from Phil Tank, Saskatoon StarPhoenix


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