The province is taking the federal government to court over Ottawa’s promised imposition of its carbon tax on Albertans.
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said Thursday he believes the move constitutes federal overreach into the right of the province to manage its own affairs.
“Imposing a federal carbon tax on Albertans constitutes federal interference with our constitutional authority to make policy decisions within our own jurisdiction,” Schweitzer said.
“The constitutional reference has implications beyond the carbon tax that every Canadian should be concerned about.”
Although the federal government hasn’t yet officially unveiled its concrete carbon tax plan for Alberta, Schweitzer argued signals out of Ottawa that it will go ahead with a backstop program makes this the right time to head to court.
“We need to take action now to make sure we defend Alberta’s interests,” he said.
During the election, Premier Jason Kenney promised a UCP government would launch a formal court challenge of the federal carbon tax by the end of April.
That didn’t happen. Kenney recently said his government would await legal decisions from Saskatchewan and Ontario before Alberta heads to court, but has obviously decided to go ahead instead.
The Saskatchewan government recently lost a court challenge against the federal carbon tax, and vowed to take its battle to the Supreme Court.
Schweitzer said it’s important for Alberta to get ahead of that ruling, and table a full evidentiary record in front of the court “as soon as possible … to make sure we can hopefully have this heard prior to any Supreme Court rulings on the matter.”
As for a timeline, Schweitzer is hopeful the Alberta Court of Appeal will allow an expedited hearing.
“I think the earliest date for a hearing would be some time in October,” he said.
Schweitzer is expecting the case to cost around $300,000. He said he didn’t want to get into the details of the legal briefs, and how Alberta’s arguments would differ from Saskatchewan’s losing case.
“We’re going to fight for the future of Alberta,” he said.
“We campaigned on making sure we fought for every job, for the future opportunities of Albertans and to control our own destiny within our constitution.”