P.E.I., Quebec intervene in Saskatchewan's legal challenge of carbon tax

OTTAWA — Prince Edward Island and Quebec have joined as interveners in Saskatchewan's legal challenge of the federal carbon tax.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said in Ottawa Monday that he does not want to be seen as a Progressive Conservative premier just joining the "resistance" of other conservative provincial leaders across the country fighting the Trudeau government's carbon tax.

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Rather, P.E.I. is joining the court challenge simply because the province wants to have the chance to speak up in court, if necessary — possibly even to support the tax, King said.

"Our position could be that perhaps this goes through and they try to kill the (carbon pricing) program, for example, in court, so maybe we would be in a position to work with our other partners to say we don't want the program killed because we believe in a carbon-reduction plan," King said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

King was in Ottawa to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of this week's Council of the Federation meetings in Saskatoon.

He said he told Trudeau he's in favour of the federal Liberals' carbon-pricing program, but also wants to find ways to reward carbon-reduction measures rather than just penalizing emitters and consumers.

"As an island province we can't pretend that climate change isn't a real issue because we see it and live it every single day," King said.

"We actually have no plan to fight this (federal carbon price), we've never had an intention to fight this ... the brand of Progressive Conservatism that I believe in and that I represent in Prince Edward Island is vastly different than it is in other jurisdictions. I wouldn't just join the fight because another party that I am somewhat part of or connected to is doing that. My decisions have to be made in the best interests of Prince Edward Islanders."

Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel said in a statement Monday her province is also intervening in the Saskatchewan case, to ensure Quebec retains its jurisdictional autonomy over its cap-and-trade system.

Quebec and P.E.I. are among seven provinces now registered as interveners in the Saskatchewan challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has previously failed at the province's Court of Appeal.

Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and British Columbia have also filed notices of intervention in Saskatchewan's appeal.

Much like Saskatchewan's, Ontario’s top court recently upheld the federal government’s right to implement a carbon-pricing system in a separate legal challenge mounted by Premier Doug Ford's government.

A number of the conservative premiers who have been most vocal in denouncing the national carbon price gathered in Alberta on Monday ahead of the Council of the Federation meetings — a gathering that aimed to show a united front on a number of issues, including resistance to the federal carbon tax.

Neither King nor Quebec Premier Francois Legault took part.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters Monday he was pleased to see more provinces like Quebec joining his government's legal challenge and said justice ministers from all interested provinces will be invited to work together to make the strongest case possible.

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