The story behind the SK court case

Today Saskatchewan’s court hearings on carbon pricing are set to begin. Here’s what you need to know.

Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe promised voters that he would do everything in his power to scrap Saskatchewan’s carbon pricing legislation. Today, he has brought his case to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, arguing that the federal backstop price is unconstitutional.

The debate being brought to court is not about whether climate change is real and impacting Canadians already, nor is it about whether or not carbon pricing is the most effective tool we have to fight climate change – it is about whether or not the federal government has the right to create policy about emissions management in a given province if they do not act themselves.

The truth is, emissions do not know provincial boundaries, and neither do the effects of climate change. If Saskatchewan will not step up and create a plan of its own, it makes sense for the federal government to intervene and take the lead for the sake of all Canadians.

The system the federal government is bringing in has been praised by economists and climate experts around the world as the most effective, economically friendly means of reducing emissions. It ensures that pollution isn’t free, and that businesses and individuals that create less of it are financially rewarded for doing so. The price on carbon drives consumers towards more environmentally sustainable choices, and the dividend check allows consumers to make those choices comfortably. Under this system 90% of the revenue is returned to households in the form of a rebate. In Saskatchewan, a family of four can expect to receive a rebate of $609 dollars. The first rebates will appear on this year’s tax return.

Several groups have been given the opportunity to argue their sides of the debate as interveners in the court case. On the Saskatchewan side – the governments of Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as Alberta’s United ConservativeParty. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Sask Power & Sask Energy, and the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan will also have a seat on that side of the table.

Arguing in favour of the federal carbon price are numerous organizations representing a broad swath of society, including doctors and public health professionals, Indigenous leaders, youth groups, ENGOs, economists, the National Farmers Union, and more.

Many provinces, territories, cities, and businesses across Canada are stepping up to address climate change. In British Columbia, where a price on pollution has been in place for ten years, the province has reduced its emissions up to 15%, and has led the country in economic growth, while building the fastest growing clean tech sector in the country. Some provincial governments are spending millions of taxpayer’s dollars to go to court to contest an effective system to fight climate change, just to score political points. The majority of Canadians understand that the climate change problem is real and immediate, and that carbon pricing can help us secure a better world for ourselves and for our children, while putting a little extra money in our pockets each year.

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