Another step has been taken to amend the Saskatchewan Act.
A Conservative motion to repeal Section 24 of the act passed in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The act currently exempts Canadian Pacific Railway from certain Saskatchewan taxes due to the capital investments its predecessor made in 1880 to complete the coast-to-coast railway.
CP Rail is currently suing the province for $341 million over the clause, saying it wants a return of the taxes paid since 2002 and a declaration that future taxes are not payable.
The Saskatchewan government says the exemption ended in 1966 when CP’s president rescinded the deal in exchange for regulatory changes.
“This change will ensure that all Saskatchewan taxpayers, both citizens and businesses alike, continue to be fairly treated and bear responsibility for provincial taxes which support our provincial infrastructure and economy,” said Gordon Wyant, Attorney General and Justice Minister, in a statement Wednesday.
The Saskatchewan government introduced a motion in November 2021 to change the Constitution of Canada related to the Saskatchewan Act.
It received bipartisan support in the Saskatchewan legislature and passed unanimously.
Members of the Saskatchewan caucus in Parliament said passing the motion in the House of Commons means the province’s voice can no longer be ignored.
“Conservatives have said from the beginning that we will always respect the jurisdiction of our provinces and their right to amend their respective constitutions,” said a joint statement from Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh and Regina-Lewvan MP Warren Steinley.
“This is the second time Conservatives have asked the Liberal government to remove a longstanding deal imposed by a former federal government to give CP Rail a permanent tax exemption in Saskatchewan.”
The debate moves to the Senate where it can be formally proclaimed by the Governor-General.
If it passes, it would repeal Section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act retroactively to Aug. 29, 1966.
— with files from Ryan Kessler