Saskatchewan, one of the biggest foes of a federal carbon tax, plans to charge one of its own after a legal defeat in its drawn-out battle against Ottawa.
Premier Scott Moe announced the policy shift hours after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6-3 that the federal government has the constitutional right to bring in a carbon price in provinces without one.
“This was a battle that was for the right reasons,” Moe said Thursday.
“We don't agree with the ruling, but I've played enough hockey to know that we're not going to do a lot of fruitful arguing with the referees after the game is over.”
Saskatchewan was the first province to mount a legal challenge against the Liberal government's Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. It argued the legislation overstepped into provincial territory.
Moe repeated his long-standing belief Thursday that a carbon tax doesn't reduce emissions and makes industries less competitive.
But he said his Saskatchewan Party government will now focus on reducing the policy's effect on consumers and industries.
He pitched doing that by replacing the federal tax with a made-in-Saskatchewan plan, which will include its own carbon price.
“The government will submit a proposal that will see Saskatchewan design its own carbon-pricing system for fuel ... that will be similar to one the federal government has approved in the province of New Brunswick,'' Moe said.
“This would provide an immediate rebate right at the pump to Saskatchewan people.”
The plan would also bring electrical generation and natural gas transmission under provincial regulations also being developed, he added. These are subject to Ottawa's rules and not included in Saskatchewan's existing pollution plan.
Moe said bringing them under provincial legislation would allow for more control and flexibility in how carbon tax revenues are spent.
He also said a greenhouse gas offset program will be designed to allow companies to meet their emissions targets by buying carbon credits from farmers and other businesses that can sequester carbon.
The premier is asking Ottawa to send Saskatchewan millions it hasn't been able to get from a low-carbon economy fund, because it refused to sign on to the federal framework that includes a carbon price.
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