​Alberta, Saskatchewan to work together in the courts against federal carbon tax

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speak at the Saskatchewan Oil & Gas Show in Weyburn in June 2019. Image: Jason Kenney/Facebook

The Government of Alberta is joining Saskatchewan’s challenge of Ottawa’s carbon tax in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Alberta announced on Tuesday it has filed a Notice of Intervention Respecting Constitutional Questions regarding the case.

This follows Alberta’s filing last week of its own reference case with the Alberta Court of Appeal asking for a legal opinion on the constitutionality of the federal government imposing its carbon tax.

Earlier this month Ottawa announced it will impose its carbon tax on Alberta starting Jan. 1, 2020.

The federal tax has been imposed on provinces that have not implemented their own carbon levies: Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Alberta repealed its retail carbon tax as the first act by Premier Jason Kenney’s new government.

In early June the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in a split decision that the federal tax is constitutional, and that establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions falls under federal jurisdiction.

Saskatchewan subsequently filed notice that it is taking its challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The split decision at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was not a broad victory and raised significant questions about federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction,” Alberta Minister of Justice Doug Schweitzer said in a statement.

“One of the underlying principles of our federation is the right of the provinces to manage their own affairs. Imposing a one-size-fits-all federal carbon tax disrupts this constitutional balance and ignores provincial authority to legislate in ways that reflect local conditions and circumstances.”

The Supreme Court of Canada has set a tentative hearing date of Dec. 5, 2019 for oral arguments.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said last week that his government will also be joining the Government of Alberta by seeking intervener status in its reference case.

— With files from the Canadian Press