Ministers set to discuss timing of carbon tax legal challenges during meeting

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer. Image: Government of Alberta

SASKATOON — Attorneys general from Alberta and Ontario say they will discuss the timeline of the different legal challenges launched against the federal carbon tax when they meet in Saskatoon today.

The two justice ministers will be joined by their legal teams and their counterparts from New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan is hosting the meeting to discuss the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

It argues a federally imposed carbon tax on consumers is unconstitutional, but lost its case in a 3-2 split decision in its own appeal court.

The provincial government appealed to the Supreme Court and says it has a tentative hearing date set for Dec. 5.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says his government is trying to play catch-up to Saskatchewan and Ontario when it comes to mounting its own legal challenge.

He says it's important for the ministers to compare notes about what they're hearing from their legal teams and he wants the provinces to work together so that the matter is heard by the Supreme Court in a “co-ordinated and thoughtful way.”

Schweitzer says he wants Alberta's case heard by the Alberta Appeal Court before the country's highest court rules on the issue, so the Supreme Court has the opportunity to consider the province's evidence when it makes its decision.

“We're trying to work out [the] strategy to make sure each province can bring forward its strongest case to the Supreme Court,'' he said.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey says his government has until August to file a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court after that province's appeal court upheld the federal carbon tax in a split decision.

“It’s my understanding that [Saskatchewan] may be looking to have some of the cases consolidated so that ... the Supreme Court's hearing more than one at a time,” said Downey.

He said there are pros and cons about presenting the cases together, but wouldn't comment on his government's preference or strategy.

“From what I understand Saskatchewan is asking for an extension or for more time.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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