Feds expect provinces to “obey the law”: Minister Virani

The looming threat of ‘carbon jail’ continues to hover over provincial politicians in Saskatchewan over the province’s decision to not remit the carbon tax on home heating to the federal government.

Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Arif Virani in Regina on Wednesday, .John Cairns

At a federal housing announcement held in Regina Wednesday, the question was posed to federal Minister of Justice Arif Virani on what legal consequences could be expected for the province over their move to defy the federal law and not remit the carbon tax. Virani had this to say: 

“We know that the price on pollution is critical to combatting climate change. We also know the price of pollution has been litigated already in the Supreme Court of Canada and Saskatchewan participated with that application. The court in that case found the price of pollution is an entirely legal measure, and it is a lawful measure. I expect that as a federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, much the same way my provincial counterparts would expect, that the rule of law would be observed by all levels of government. That’s really critical.

“I think with respect to the carbon pricing it’s also important because it’s top of mind every April 1 is that when we talk about the carbon price, we’re also talking about a measure that’s actually putting more money in the hands of eight out of 10 families across the country than it is costing them, and that includes families in Saskatchewan. The carbon price rebate was around $1360 per family of four in this province in March and it is now going up to $1500 a year for a family of four in this city. If you’re a family of four living in a rural area of this country it’s $1800. Also really critical. And I think it’s really critical for Saskatchewan residents to understand there are 400 economists that are behind that policy…

“And on that very piece what I would say to Premier Moe is that I would actually ask him to reflect on what he said to a microphone last week, is that he’s not sure of any other measure could be done as affordably as all the other alternatives in fighting climate change, which is a priority for all of us, are more costly than a price on pollution. So this measure is boosting affordability, it’s getting money into the hands of Saskatchewan residents, and in terms of the remittances that relate to the carbon price, we expect provinces to obey the law.”

And if the Saskatchewan government will not obey the law? Virani said this:

“So what I would say to that is that the expectation is that all provinces will obey the law, then the matter is deemed looked at and assessed by entities like Revenue Canada.”

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