Alberta Attorney General Doug Schweitzer, left to right, New Brunswick Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason, Saskatchewan Attorney General Don Morgan and Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey during a media event regarding the meeting of the attorneys general to to discuss the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the carbon tax at the Saskatoon Cabinet Office in Saskatoon, Sask. on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Saskatchewan Attorney General Don Morgan says the Supreme Court of Canada is likely to hear the legal challenges of the provinces fighting the federally imposed carbon tax together.Morgan was joined by the attorneys general for Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick at a media conference on Tuesday following an in-person meeting with them, which also included discussions with the attorney general for Manitoba to collaborate on their legal strategy to challenge the federal government’s carbon backstop. The ministers also had discussions with legal counsel for Quebec a week earlier.The backstop was imposed on provinces that didn’t present the federal government with a plan to put a price on carbon emissions.Tuesday’s meeting was the first and likely only face-to-face meeting between the attorneys general before an appeal to the nation’s top court from Saskatchewan is heard in early December. Morgan said he believes it’s the first time attorneys general from different provinces have met to discuss a specific court challenge.Alberta, the lone province attending the meeting that did not have the backstop imposed on it, plans to make a double-pronged effort to get caught up to the other provinces currently engaged in court challenges.First, it’s looking to launch a challenge similar to Ontario and Saskatchewan’s in its provincial courts. At the same time, it also plans to seek leave to present evidence to the Supreme Court of Canada, said Alberta Attorney General Doug Schweitzer.“In Alberta, we’re moving at a quick pace. We want to have this heard at the earliest potential opportunity. We can’t dictate to the courts when they hear it, but we’re hoping to have this heard this year. So hopefully we can align and kind of catch up to everybody at the Supreme Court level,” he said.Related
Morgan said “on something like this” the Supreme Court doesn’t like to make a decision and then make it again on a similar set of facts.“I think it’s important to get it done as quickly as we can, so I’m pleased that when I talk to my counterparts across the country, that they’re all moving as expeditious as they can to get their material in and be able to get it heard as quickly as we can,” Morgan said.Any decision to hear the separate provincial challenges at once would be made by the Supreme Court itself.On May 3, Saskatchewan lost its carbon tax challenge in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal; Ontario lost its appeals court case in June. New Brunswick has not taken the federal government to court over the backstop, but has taken an intervener status in the Saskatchewan and Ontario cases. The fourth province where the federal carbon tax applies, Manitoba, launched its own court challenge in April.Morgan estimated Saskatchewan’s legal costs will be “in the range of hundreds of thousands” of dollars.“I don’t look at it as the goal is to save money, I look at it as the goal is to strike down a tax that is not acceptable and try to find better ways to deal with climate change,” he said.He said the group of provinces think it’s worthwhile to set a precedent to clearly define where the issue of the environment falls in the division of powers between federal and provincial email@example.com