Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is considering taking Ottawa to the Supreme Court in his fight against the recently announced carbon tax.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week his government’s decision to introduce a minimum price for carbon pollution, quickly drawing the ire of several premiers.
The Liberal plan – one step in its path to meeting emissions targets agreed to in Paris – will require provinces to impose a $10 per tonne price on carbon by 2018 and increase it to $50 per tonne by 2022.
If a province doesn’t have a price tag come 2018, Ottawa will impose its own price and return the revenue to the province.
“At a time when our energy sector in this country, which employs a lot of Canadians, is reeling – that’s the time we’re talking about a new carbon tax to come in?” said Wall.
The Saskatchewan premier was among the more vocal provincial critics of Trudeau’s plan, which the prime minister announced in the House of Commons while provincial environment ministers were meeting in Montreal.
“There’s a certain amount of frustration, and here’s why. The prime minister promised a collaborative approach not just on the issue of climate change, but collaborative federalism in general,” he said. “This particular ministers’ meeting … was meant to set the stage and make recommendations to the premiers.”
In 2009, the Saskatchewan legislature passed Wall’s plan to impose a levy on the province’s largest emitters. The plan was to put that money into a technology fund from which companies could apply for projects to improve their carbon footprint. Although the premier could have enacted the plan in 2010, he has yet to.
According to a 2010 report from the Conference Board of Canada, Wall’s plan could have brought in $1.3 billion in its first four years, and created more than 8,500 jobs.
The fact this plan is sitting on the shelf has left the people of Saskatchewan with a premier who lacks credibility on emissions reductions, said Trent Wotherspoon, the province’s NDP leader and leader of the official Opposition.
“I won’t support any plan that’s being imposed by Ottawa without Saskatchewan’s input,” he said. “But Wall’s invited Ottawa to impose this because of his inaction.”
Wall told Tom Clark that he’s been waiting for the energy sector to recover before implementing his plan. Since the bill passed the legislature, the price of oil has reached a high of $113.39 (in 2011) and a low of $26.21 (2016 to date) per barrel.