February 17, 2019 12:15 pm

Carbon tax marks a ‘revolution’ to Canadian Constitution: Saskatchewan premier

WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Ottawa should halt its plan to collect carbon taxes until a panel of judges decides whether it has the constitutional power to do so.

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the government’s move to implement the carbon tax is a “revolution” to the Canadian Constitution.

That’s why he says the province remains committed to fighting the court challenge that saw federal lawyers make their opening arguments last week.

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READ MORE: Feds argue climate change is a national concern in Saskatchewan carbon tax case

In an interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Moe argued that the powers claimed by the Liberals to justify implementing the carbon tax would mark a revolutionary change to the constitutional breakdown of power between the provinces and the federal government.

And he suggested any changes should be made slowly and carefully.

“This is how our Constitution actually came to be, by evolution and having these discussions. Not a revolution, which is the initiative I see being put forward by the federal government,” he said.

WATCH BELOW: Feds make opening arguments in Sask. carbon tax court case

Last week, a Saskatchewan panel of judges heard opening arguments in the legal battle that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

At issue is the carbon tax, which imposes a minimum regulatory standard for provinces that do not have an emissions-reduction system in place of their own that meets the federal standard.

The price of that minimum standard, or backstop, will be $20 per tonne.

That will rise to $50 per tonne in 2022.

WATCH BELOW: Saskatchewan carbon tax case heads to court — province argues it’s unconstitutional

While environmental regulation normally falls under the authority of the provinces, the federal government is arguing the fact that climate change presents significant and pressing challenges across the country. The factors influencing climate change go beyond provincial borders making this a national concern.

That, argued Crown lawyer Sharlene Telles-Langdon in Regina last week, gives the federal government the power to enact legislation to deal with it.

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Moe said the province already has mechanisms in place to support innovation for cleaner technologies and that it wants to share those with industrial emitters in other countries like China that produce far more emissions than Canada does.

Challenging the carbon tax, he said, was about protecting the province’s energy sector from federal overreach.

“We’ve seen provinces lay down their line in the sand in years past,” he said.

“That is what you see playing out here in Regina this week.”

The panel of judges hearing the case will have to weigh the merits of both arguments to determine which outweighs the other.

Moe said he wants the federal government to wait for a legal ruling before implementing the carbon tax, arguing it did effectively the same thing when it paused construction on the Trans Mountain expansion following a Federal Court injunction.

The carbon tax goes into effect on April 1.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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