REGINA – The Saskatchewan government says its arguments against the federal carbon tax could be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada before the end of the year, but after the federal election.
The province says it has been notified that the reference case has been tentatively set for Dec. 5.
Saskatchewan appealed to the country’s highest court after losing its constitutional challenge against the federal tax in its own Appeal Court last month in a 3-2 split decision.
Attorney General Don Morgan says Ottawa violated Saskatchewan’s constitutional jurisdiction when it started charging the federal levy April 1 because the province did not implement a tax of its own.
The province’s lawyers are preparing to submit a factum which is due near the end of July.
Morgan said Tuesday it would have been beneficial for the Supreme Court to hear the case before the federal election in October, but added the government plans to forge ahead with its challenge no matter which party wins.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has promised to scrap the carbon tax if he is elected as the next prime minister.
“Our expectation is that we would want to go ahead. We think it’s worthwhile to have better clarity as to the role of the federal government and the provinces with regard to environment or the right to levy that kind of a tax,” said Morgan.
The Supreme Court’s decision could be used if other questions arise between the provinces and federal government when it comes to jurisdiction, he said.
The federal government announced Tuesday that it plans to spend $60 million of the money from the carbon tax to fund green projects at schools in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The four provinces are subject to the national carbon price because they do not have their own carbon pricing that meets federal standards.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has sent a letter to her Saskatchewan counterpart, Dustin Duncan, that says the Ottawa has set aside $12 million for “energy efficiency investments” in the province’s schools.
It says the funding will be allocated to school boards through a per-student formula.
“In order to get those investments to Saskatchewan’s schools, our respective governments need to work together,” McKenna’s letter reads.
“Specifically, I am asking the government of Saskatchewan to sign an agreement where it will commit, along with the government of Canada, to flow those dollars to Saskatchewan’s school boards to improve energy efficiency in schools across the province.”
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