Saskatchewan First Act will help in future court fights with Ottawa: justice minister

Saskatchewan’s justice minister says Ottawa’s actions have a larger effect on investor confidence than pushback from Indigenous and environmental groups.

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REGINA — Saskatchewan’s justice minister says Ottawa’s actions have a larger effect on investor confidence than pushback from Indigenous and environmental groups as she promotes a bill that the province contends would give it more autonomy.

Bronwyn Eyre says the Saskatchewan First Act isn’t about carving new powers for Saskatchewan.

The legislation, which passed a second reading in November, would unilaterally amend the constitution to assert provincial jurisdiction over resources and set up a tribunal to be used in future court cases.

Eyre told the Saskatchewan and Regina Chambers of Commerce Wednesday that the bill would protect the province’s economy from possible harm from federal policies.

She says a tribunal would determine cases of economic harm that could be used if the province were to take the federal government to court. 

The bill has faced significant pushback, including from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, a group that represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. 

Eyre says Ottawa continues to “infringe” on provincial jurisdiction, pointing to the federal carbon tax, environmental impact legislation and expected “Just Transition” legislation — a plan to help workers and communities thrive in a net-zero carbon economy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

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