Carbon tax is constitutional, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rules

Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal has ruled that the carbon tax imposed on the province by the federal government is constitutionally sound and falls within the legislative authority of Parliament. The ruling was released Friday.

Lawyers for the provincial government had argued the tax is unfair and unconstitutional.

Saskatchewan had introduced its own carbon plan, Prairie Resilience, but did not place a price on carbon. The federal government’s carbon price starts at a minimum of $20 a tonne and is to rise $10 each year until 2022. 

The decision was expected in six months to a year after arguments began in February. The quick ruling shows the courts prioritized the case, one expert said.

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is in Ottawa, where she will speak about the decision. Premier Scott Moe is expected to speak about the court’s decision around 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET).

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna news conference to react to Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling on carbon tax 0:00

Ontario has also launched a court challenge against the carbon tax, which was implemented by the federal government on April 1 in provinces that did not have their own carbon pricing plan that satisfied criteria laid out by Ottawa.

Manitoba’s Premier Brian Palliser has said his province will also launch its own court challenge.

The case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. There’s also the possibility that the Supreme Court may not hear the case if courts in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Manitoba come to similar conclusions about the constitutionality of carbon pricing, according to experts. 

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