‘We’ll see Canadians make a decision’: Scott Moe predicts carbon tax will impact federal election

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan loses carbon tax court challenge'
Saskatchewan loses carbon tax court challenge
WATCH: Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal issued a three-to-two decision in favour of Ottawa's carbon tax. – May 3, 2019

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province is going to continue challenging the federal carbon tax through the courts, and that ultimately, Canadians will be called to take a stand either way in the upcoming federal election.

“What we are doing and what we will continue to ensure that we do every day is use every tool in our tool box to actually block this Trudeau a carbon tax that is being imposed on us, because quite simply, it doesn’t work here in Saskatchewan. It doesn’t reduce emissions,” Moe told the Roy Green Show on Saturday.

LISTEN: Premier Scott Moe of Saskatchewan, on the carbon tax ruling and divisiveness in Canada

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Earlier this week, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that it is constitutional for the government to impose a carbon tax on the provinces. Moe also said at the time that the province would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Saskatchewan had asked the court for its opinion on the levy that came into effect April 1st in provinces without a carbon price — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Ontario has also argued a challenge before its Court of Appeal and Manitoba has done the same in Federal Court.

Moe added that he doesn’t believe the conversation around the carbon tax will end with the Saskatchewan Court’s ruling.

WATCH: Law professor explains Alberta’s legal options in federal energy spat

Click to play video: 'Law professor explains Alberta’s legal options in federal energy spat'
Law professor explains Alberta’s legal options in federal energy spat

“It’s going to continue into this October when we see a federal election, and I suspect it will be on the ballot at that point in time,” Moe said. “And at that point in time we’ll see Canadians make a decision with respect to not only the carbon tax, but the general ideology that is coming on our industries — our wealth-generating industries — not just in Western Canada but across this nation.”

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Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the decision confirms that putting a price on carbon pollution is an effective response to climate change.

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She challenged Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Alberta’s Jason Kenney, Ontario’s Doug Ford, and federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer to join the fight.

But Moe and some other provincial leaders say the legal battle will continue in other courts — including the Supreme Court of Canada.

WATCH: Anti-carbon tax premiers Kenney, Ford meet in Ontario

Click to play video: 'Anti-carbon tax premiers Kenney, Ford meet in Ontario'
Anti-carbon tax premiers Kenney, Ford meet in Ontario

Small business activists also decried this week’s ruling on carbon pricing by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Dan Kelly, the CEO of the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, told Roy Green on Saturday that small to medium-sized business owners will bear the brunt of the federal government’s carbon tax. 

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More than half a million businesses will be impacted by the carbon tax, though Kelly adds that the federal government has yet to clarify how these businesses will receive their rebates.

LISTEN: Dan Kelly President and CEO of the CFIB on the Roy Green Show

We’ve been in the tax now for a month and there is zero information about what that small rebate is going to look like for these very same small business owners. So that is insulting to a lot of small firms who are already feeling that the federal government has long abandoned them with the small business tax changes that happen in 2017,” Kelly continued.

Those in favour of the carbon tax heralded the decision as a major step towards establishing climate change as a serious policy point in Canada.

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“I cannot hide my joy,” said Isabelle Turcotte of the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank. “This is such great news for climate action in Canada.”

Ian Bruce of the David Suzuki Foundation, which intervened in the case, said the 3-2 decision is a step toward a consistent national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s a historic day. This decision helps pave the way for a really strong, fair and unified approach to tackling climate change across the country.”

Stewart Elgie of the University of Ottawa told Global News that the federal government has taken a similar approach with the carbon tax as it has to addressing other policy issues, including health care and social programs.

“Provinces are free to flesh out and apply their own legislation to meet their own needs, provided they meet the minimum standards,” he said.

“It recognizes that greenhouse gases, while they’re an international problem, also have significant provincial and local impacts, as we’re seeing with the [Ottawa] flooding right now,” he continued.
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Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University, said that whatever the legal arguments, climate change is an issue that has to be addressed at levels above the municipal or provincial.

“It’s a global problem. You want the most senior level of government to solve it,” he said.

“You need national governments around the planet to be able to contribute to a global governance effort.”

— With files from David Giles, David Baxter and the Canadian Press. 

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