The province of Saskatchewan is crying foul when it comes to the federal government’s unilateral declaration that single use plastics are “toxic” as defined in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Provincial representatives are making a virtual appearance before the Federal Court of Canada to request a judicial review of the declaration. As with other decisions by the federal government, Saskatchewan maintains it’s a jurisdictional matter.
"It is our position that the federal government cannot simply declare plastics to be under its environmental jurisdiction," Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. "Under the constitutional division of powers, it is well-established that provinces have exclusive jurisdiction to regulate specific industries. Establishing a competing federal regulatory framework in this area will simply create duplication, confusion, and economic harm."
Saskatchewan maintains that federal jurisdiction extends only to substances already established in statute as toxic, things such as lead, arsenic or mercury. It argues that all plastic manufactured items being labelled toxic does not fall under the scope of federal criminal law powers.
Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are taking issue with the matter and are mounting a constitutional challenge in the Court. Under federal legislation, provinces are entitled to participate and make arguments on constitutional questions without having to apply for leave to intervene.
The challenge is being heard from March 7-9 in Toronto.