BIG FIGHT, BIG STAKES

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The more Cana­di­ans learn about Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s plan to force a car­bon tax on ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try, the less they like it. It’s a phe­nom­e­non that echoes what hap­pened in Aus­tralia in 2014, when its gov­ern­ment re­pealed a much-de­spised car­bon tax af­ter it had been in place for just two years.Sev­eral Cana­dian prov­inces al­ready have car­bon taxes that meet Trudeau’s ap­proval, while a num­ber of oth­ers don’t. As of Jan. 1, the feds were to force their ver­sion of the tax on the prov­inces that won’t bend to their will.This isn’t the end of Canada’s car­bon-tax fight though. Now the stakes are even greater.This year, the Saskatchewan Court of Ap­peal will hear a ref­er­ence ques­tion case that at­tempts to get to the bot­tom of whether the feds even have the right to force such a tax on the prov­inces.The gov­ern­ment of Saskatchewan — along with a lit­tle help from Doug Ford’s On­tario PC gov­ern­ment and Ja­son Ken­ney’s United Con­ser­va­tive Party in Al­berta — says the feds should butt out of it. It con­tends it’s a ju­ris­dic­tional mat­ter and that levelling taxes on emis­sionsDon’t be sur­prised if we see it wind it­self all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.is the busi­ness of the prov­inces.Ex­perts are di­vided on how it will un­fold. Don’t be sur­prised if we see it wind it­self all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.Our take is that de­ci­sions are best made at the most lo­cal level of gov­ern­ment pos­si­ble. If prov­inces don’t want a car­bon tax, or want a dif­fer­ent ver­sion than the one Trudeau wants to force on them, then so be it.Re­gard­less of what the courts de­cide though, it’s amaz­ing Trudeau is so keen to ramp up this fight in an elec­tion year.He’s rev­el­ling in an op­por­tu­nity to wage this fight. Both Trudeau and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine Mckenna love to talk down to Cana­di­ans about this is­sue. It’s all a very odd ap­proach.What a gam­ble to run for re-elec­tion on a plat­form of forc­ing a new tax on prov­inces that don’t want it. It doesn’t seem to be the wis­est of cam­paign tac­tics.The res­o­lu­tion is un­clear, but pas­sions both for and against the tax aren’t go­ing away next year.

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