Scott Moe hints at court battle after feds reject Saskatchewan’s carbon tax plan

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WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the Canadian government rejected the province’s submission to replace the federal carbon tax with its own, indicating the federal government would not be accepting any other submissions until 2023 – Jul 13, 2021

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says another court challenge is possible after the federal government rejected the province’s carbon tax plan.

Saskatchewan’s plan to implement emissions pricing was largely based on the one in place in New Brunswick.

Moe said under that plan, Saskatchewan would “provide an immediate rebate right at the pump.”

Read more: Federal government rejects Saskatchewan’s proposal to replace carbon tax, Scott Moe says

But on Monday, officials in the provincial government were told by the federal government that their plan was denied.

Moe said the decision creates double standards across the country.

“You can’t have one standard in New Brunswick and then a different standard for the people in Saskatchewan,” Moe said Tuesday at a press conference.

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In a letter sent to his provincial counterpart, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the federal government is updating its benchmark criteria for carbon pricing.

“Canada has committed to updating its approach to carbon pricing to make it more fair and rigorous,” reads the letter, which was shared with The Canadian Press.

“In the coming months, all provinces and territories will have the opportunity to propose, for the 2023-2030 period, carbon-pricing systems that meet these updated stringency criteria.”

The letter says one of the key changes will be a requirement for governments not to weaken a carbon price on fuel by providing upfront rebates or reducing fuel taxes to offset the price.

Read more: Saskatchewan to bring in own carbon price on fuel following Supreme Court decision

In March, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the federal government has the authority to implement carbon pricing.

The federal Environment Ministry said provincial and territorial governments have the ability to offer their own plan to Ottawa as long as they meet a benchmark standard.

However, Saskatchewan was told on Monday no new submissions would be accepted until 2023.

“As we are currently updating the benchmark to ensure fairness and consistency across Canada, and to provide certainty and stability for residents and businesses, at this stage the earliest any new or expanded system will be able to replace the backstop will be in January 2023,” said Moira Kelly, the press secretary for Jonathan Wilkinson, the minister of environment and climate change.

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Kelly went on to say the ministry is pleased to see the province is moving forward on a made-in-Saskatchewan plan and said they are open to discussing the plan with provincial officials going forward.

Moe said that explanation leaves him puzzled.

He said the feds could put this plan in place now and adjust to the new standard in 2023.

“Why we say this is an arbitrary decision by the federal government is we don’t see a good reason as to why they wouldn’t accept Saskatchewan’s plan as it exceeds the minimum standard that is out there, which is really the strength of the Supreme Court ruling,” Moe said.

Moe says his justice minister, Gordon Wyant, is looking at what next steps the province will take.

He said that could mean implementing Saskatchewan’s plan, continuing with Ottawa’s plan or spending more time in the courtroom.

With files from The Canadian Press

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