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Guilbeault says ‘measures will be taken’ after Saskatchewan refuses to collect carbon tax

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Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault wants decisive action against the carbon tax dodgers in Saskatchewan, but their government could care less — even with the prospects of serving jail time.

Premier Scott Moe told reporters last week his province would not collect the carbon tax on natural gas to protest Ottawa only exempting heating oil from the levy last October.

He had until February 29 to submit the tax revenues owed to the federal government, but refused to waver in his quest for fairness between the provinces.

Eight in 10 households in Saskatchewan use natural gas to keep warm. Whereas three percent of homesteads that use heating oil reside in the Prairies.

Federal data shows 1.2 million homes in Canada use heating oil, and almost one-quarter are in Atlantic Canada. 

But Guilbeault rejected the assertion.

“If Premier Scott Moe decides that he wants to start breaking laws and not respecting federal laws, then measures will have to be taken,” he told reporters Monday.

Failing to submit those reports or pay the amounts owed carries consequences, including fines or jail time — a proposition that does not scare Crown Investments Minister Dustin Duncan.

The minister confirmed on January 2 his government would hold out on the federal government past February after tabling legislation on November 16.

Federal law stipulates that corporations who refuse to collect the carbon tax could face steep fines, with jail time probable for executives.

However, the legislation provides immunity to executives, with Duncan prepared to take their place should he face time in prison. “If that’s the way this is going to be, then come after me as the minister, not somebody at the boardroom or head office at SaskEnergy,” he said.

Duncan clarified their opposition to collecting the carbon tax is to highlight the unfair heating oil reprieve that benefits some Canadians but not most. 

“We’re just asking for fairness,” the minister said. Their reprieve is expected to save residents $400 a year on their power bills, he added.

By removing the carbon tax on home heating, Statistics Canada said the province reduced the impacts of inflation. According to the federal agency’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), inflation in Saskatchewan fell from 2.7% in December to 1.9% the following month.

“If they are actually serious about fighting inflation, the federal government needs to remove the carbon tax on everyone and everything,” continued Duncan.

But Guilbeault maintains the refusal to abide by federal law cannot be allowed to happen.

“What if somebody tomorrow decides that they don’t want to respect other federal laws, criminal laws? What would happen then if a prime minister, a premier of a province, would want to do that?” he said.

“It’s irresponsible and it’s frankly immoral on his part,” suggested Guilbeault. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith declared her support for Saskatchewan in a post to X Tuesday, formerly Twitter. 

“Alberta stands with Saskatchewan and Premier Scott Moe in their fight against the unfair and unconstitutional region-specific and fuel-specific application of the carbon tax,” she wrote. “We agree the retail carbon tax should be scrapped and will continue to take every effort to see that it is overturned.”

Smith also highlighted the environment minister’s hypocritical concern for uplifting the rule of law.

“This is the same man who scaled the CN tower illegally putting lives at risk, trespassed on the home of Ralph and Colleen Klein while Colleen was home alone, and tramples on the constitution of Canada on an almost daily basis as evidenced by his continued Supreme Court and federal court losses including on C-69 and plastics,” she added.

“This man clearly resents the West and our right to develop our resources, and he is entirely unfit to be environment minister. It has been a long time since he was replaced by the Prime Minister.”



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