Premier Brad Wall made his clearest indication yet he’ll challenge a federal carbon tax in court during a speech Thursday night.
Speaking at the premier’s dinner in Saskatoon, a fundraiser for the Saskatchewan Party, Wall rallied supporters around a carbon tax battle.
“We will be the only province in Canada without a carbon tax,” he told the Prairieland Park crowd. “Because we’re going to beat that case in court.”
Wall has hinted at legal action in the past, but had a clearer picture in his latest remarks.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the SaskParty leader expressed confidence in the province’s case.
“On an initial analysis our justice lawyers believe there’s a reasonable chance for success,” he said.
He also pointed to the Manitoba government’s recent pledge to not sign on to a carbon tax system, questioning how the federal Liberals would move forward.
“How does a national government design a tax that will only affect two of the units of the federation?” he asked.
“We’re optimistic about winning in court, and we will take it to court.”
SEPARATE SCHOOL FUNDING
Wall also said more details are coming next week on the province’s response to a court decision affecting the province’s separate school systems.
The Court of Queen’s Bench ruling determined provincial funding for non-Catholic students attending a Catholic board school was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“We’re pretty confident we can make sure this ruling doesn’t stand,” Wall told reporters.
He indicated the Christ the Teacher School Division (CTSD), who lost the 10-year court battle, was considering an appeal.
Wall also warned the decision could have an impact on student bases for Buddhist, Muslim and Lutheran schools across the province.
The premier mentioned Bill 63 as well, saying the reason it was being introduced was to prevent similar court battles.
“Every once in a while there might be cause for the government to intervene and say ‘no, we’re not sure if that’s in the interest of students,'” he said.
But he insisted the bill would still allow school boards to operate independently and make their own decisions.
“We’re going to provide them the latitude they need to do their work and represent their ratepayers and provide good education,” he said. “Because by-and-large that’s what they do.”
The premier took time during his speech to comment on the current trade relationship with the United States.
He suggested a trade war would hurt Americans more than Canadians, given several states have a trade surplus with provinces like Saskatchewan.
“We’re not China, we’re not Mexico when it comes to trade balance,” he said. “There is more to lose for them than there is for us.”
Wall also complimented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his handling of the softwood lumber and dairy products dispute.
“I think the prime minister’s approach so far has been on point,” he said, adding Saskatchewan would support his efforts.
“Whatever we can do to help Canada, Saskatchewan is there.”