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Appeal Court majority says federal carbon tax constitutional

Last Updated May 3, 2019 at 11:11 am PDT

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks during a pro-pipeline rally at IJACK Technologies Inc. near Moosomin, Sask., on Saturday February 16, 2019. Today Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal will be the first in Canada to rule on whether a federally-imposed carbon tax is constitutional. The Saskatchewan Party government launched a legal challenge against Ottawa's carbon price that came into effect for consumers April 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

REGINA — Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal has ruled in a split decision that a federally imposed carbon tax is constitutional.

The Saskatchewan Party government had asked the court for its opinion on the levy that came into effect April 1 in provinces without a carbon price of their own.

In a 155-page decision on the reference case, Chief Justice Robert Richards writes that establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions falls under federal jurisdiction.

He writes Ottawa has the power to impose its carbon tax under a section of the Constitution that states Parliament can pass laws in the name of peace, order and good government.

Two of the five Appeal Court justices differed in their opinion and ruled the federal government’s actions are not a valid use of that section of the Constitution.

Saskatchewan had argued before the court that Ottawa was overstepping its jurisdiction, but federal lawyers said greenhouse gas emissions are a national concern.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he is disappointed with the decision.