Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall looking at legal options on federal carbon tax

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WATCH ABOVE: Premier Brad Wall has made it no secret that he isn't happy about the federal carbon tax plan. Since Monday's announcement, he's taken to social media on numerous occasions to voice his opposition. Now he's talking and our provincial affairs reporter David Baxter has more on Wall's next steps – Oct 7, 2016

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he has asked his Justice Ministry to look at legal options the province might have regarding the federal government’s intention to impose a carbon tax.

“Say Saskatchewan, and one or two other provinces simply say we’re not doing this. How do they constitutionally devise a tax that’s only for two or three provinces?” Wall said.

“Maybe they can, but I think there’s constitutional issues there.”

Wall said a part of the constitutional challenge the Saskatchewan Justice Ministry will be looking into is whether one level of government can tax another, alluding to SaskPower and SaskEnergy.

Both Crown corporations said earlier this week that they are preparing for increased operating costs due to the federal carbon pricing plan.

Wall says it’s not clear how Ottawa’s plan will take affect if Saskatchewan or other provinces say they’re not implementing a price on carbon.

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DIGGING DEEPER: ‘How much huff does he have?’: Premier Wall vs Justin Trudeau on carbon tax

The federal plan calls for a $10-per-tonne tax starting in 2018 and increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said carbon pricing will be imposed on provinces that don’t match the tax or implement a cap-and-trade system on emissions.

READ MORE: Most provinces non-committal on Ottawa’s revenue-neutral carbon plan

Wall said that kind of significant tax would impact the agriculture, mining and oil and gas industries. It would also mean fewer jobs or people making less money.

“If you’re an oil worker watching oil climb back up to $50, you know that Crescent Point and others have a choice. They can drill in North Dakota, obviously the Bakken is in North Dakota as well,” Wall said.

Wall added farmers, specifically lentil growers, would face similar competition from their American counterparts with carbon priced at $50 per tonne.

The premier reiterated points he’s made previously in carbon tax talks, including a push for more technological innovation like the $1.3 billion the province has invested into the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage Project.

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Wall also repeated his assertion that a carbon tax in Canada won’t do much to lower global emissions, saying we contribute 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gases.

The federal government has maintained that any money collected through a carbon tax would stay in the province. However, Wall doesn’t see this as a way to work toward revenue neutrality.

“I think it’s spacious to just assume there’d be the same number of people working in Saskatchewan afterwards, and you can reduce their income tax and it’s all neutral,” Wall said.

The premier also says the federal government has not offered an economic assessment to show the impact on jobs or Canadian household costs.

With files from The Canadian Press

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