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Sask. Premier Scott Moe and others respond to carbon tax decision

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that the federal government’s carbon tax is legal, and it has drawn plenty of reaction.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that the federal government’s carbon tax is legal, and it has drawn plenty of reaction.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in a statement that the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada does not change the government’s core conviction that the federal carbon tax is bad environmental policy, bad economic policy and simply wrong.

“While the Supreme Court has determined that Prime Minister Trudeau has the legal right to impose a carbon tax, it doesn’t mean he should, and it doesn’t make the carbon tax any less punitive for Saskatchewan people.”

The ruling comes with a strong dissenting opinion, Moe said. It says this decision has far reaching implications for federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Moe says Saskatchewan will remain vigilant in defending its constitutional jurisdiction from further infringement from the federal government.

“From the first day that his carbon tax was imposed, Saskatchewan people have seen the federal carbon tax for what it is - a blunt, ineffective instrument that kills job, threatens the competitiveness of our industries, and penalizes essential, daily activities of families across our province,” said Moe. “Our government will continue to make every effort to protect Saskatchewan families, workers and businesses from the negative consequences of the federal carbon tax.”

Moe says he will outline measures that Saskatchewan will take in the months ahead to protect Saskatchewan people while addressing climate change. He is scheduled to have a press conference at noon Thursday.

“We will forge our own path without being subject to the punitive and ineffective carbon tax imposed by Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government.”

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili was also quick to respond, saying the Saskatchewan NDP Caucus is focused on creating good jobs in Saskatchewan and prosperity for the province’s  families and businesses.

“Today’s ruling means that Trudeau’s economy-wide carbon tax will continue to take more from the people of Saskatchewan than they get back, with people living in rural and remote areas being most affected. That’s not right,” Meili said.  

“The economy-wide price on carbon is not something that Saskatchewan people, or the Saskatchewan NDP support. Scott Moe chose to maintain the Trudeau carbon tax for two whole years instead of trying to negotiate a better deal.”

Meili said Moe and the Sask. Party government must act quickly to negotiate a better deal that protects Saskatchewan’s economy and gives working families a break, including:

Exempts fuel used for grain drying;

Explores all options to limit costs for families;

Ensures rebates leave regular families with more money in their pockets than they pay in carbon tax;

Meili also said the federal government must pause its plans to dramatically increase the carbon tax, especially while so many families across the country – not just in Saskatchewan – are struggling coming through the pandemic. Now is not the time to increase costs on working families.

“Justin Trudeau must also acknowledge that the carbon tax disproportionately affects the Saskatchewan economy. With that fact comes a responsibility on the federal government to make dedicated investments that will make a difference here including support for workers in our hard hit industries and helping to create good sustainable jobs in renewable energy.

“Saskatchewan has many opportunities in biofuels, geothermal, solar and wind energy, but we need the federal support to kickstart these new industries.”

Meili said the people of Saskatchewan know climate change is real, and want to do their part to reduce emissions while creating good jobs for the future in wind, solar, and geothermal. He believes it’s time for Trudeau and Moe to put wrangling aside and get to work, together, on real solutions across the board that will ensure good jobs and prosperity for everyone.

The president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the challenges to federal jurisdiction over carbon taxation.

“Saskatchewan agricultural producers have been very concerned about the impact of the federal carbon tax on our sustainability,” APAS president Todd Lewis said. “As producers, we don’t set the prices for our products, and can’t pass those extra costs along the value chain, so it comes right out of our pockets.”

APAS has estimated the cost of producing an acre of wheat will increase by $12.50 by the time the carbon tax is fully implemented in 2030. These cost increases will include trucking, rail freight and grain drying.

“APAS decided to get involved as an intervenor in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal case because agriculture and environment are shared federal/provincial areas of jurisdiction, and policymaking in those areas works best when it’s developed by both levels of government and reflects the best interests of those sectors.”

Lewis pointed out that the federal carbon pricing policy still impacted the financial sustainability of producers, and that the needs of producers would have to be addressed by the federal government.

“The court has upheld the federal government’s jurisdiction, and now the government must act to resolve the outstanding issues faced by our industry.”

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce says it is also disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling.

“To be clear, the debate is not, and should not, be whether we need to transition to a lower carbon economy, but how to manage the process,” stated Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McLellan. “There is a better way forward, the federal government’s pan-Canadian approach to pollution pricing has not recognized the unique challenges present in Saskatchewan; putting undue hardship on our residents and businesses, it is unfortunate that they will continue this approach.”

The Saskatchewan chamber supports a policy where innovation is championed, and where recognition is given to the fact that some specific regions and economic segments have a larger challenge before them.

“Driving corporate investments and production to jurisdictions where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not regulated does not help mitigate the impact of global climate change, the Saskatchewan people, nor the Canadian economy,” continued McLellan. “We really need climate change policy where emission intensive and trade-exposed industries, the foundation of Saskatchewan’s economy, are not penalized by one-size fits all carbon pricing. Many of these industries have made substantial world-leading improvements in environmental performance.”

Earlier this month, the Saskatchewan chamber released its report, Building the Low Carbon Economy: Exploring Opportunities and Challenges for Saskatchewan, which presented 18 recommendations to support the decarbonization of Saskatchewan businesses while protecting the local economy.

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce urges the federal government to implement these recommendations as it continues to develop climate change policy going forward.

“Our report recognized that energy efficiency through investments in new technologies is essential, and immediately implementable, in the transition to the lower carbon economy. The federal government had committed to supporting Saskatchewan small and medium enterprises in the adoption of these technologies when it imposed the carbon tax on Saskatchewan through the Climate Action Incentive Fund, however, the distribution of these funds has been paused by Ottawa,” said McLellan. “The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce wants to see these funds promptly returned to provincial SMEs as originally promised. We could be using these resources to reduce emissions now.”