'It's a mess': Alberta NDP demands Smith drop sovereignty act as former UCP critics fall in line
After skewering Danielle Smith's sovereignty act idea during the UCP leadership race, several of Alberta's cabinet ministers now say they'll happily vote for it.
The show of unity and support came as legal experts and the Opposition NDP warned of "unilateral powers" that exist in the legislation.
Brian Jean was one of four MLAs who held a press conference in September to jointly call the proposal "unconstitutional" and a "fairy tale."
On Wednesday he called the legislation a "great act" that he now supports.
"I sure do. First of all, it's constitutional. The premier consulted with caucus, consulted with cabinet, continues to consult with Albertans to get it right and we're going to get it right," Jean told reporters in the legislature.
After being sworn in as an MLA earlier in the day, Smith rose in the legislature Tuesday to introduce the retitled Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act.
Rajan Sawhney was one of the MLAs that stood next to Jean just weeks ago to warn Albertans about Smith's initial proposal.
"It's absolutely true, I was very critical of the sovereignty act, but to the premier's credit she incorporated some of the feedback that I had for her," Sawhney told reporters.
"I was very concerned about the separatism aspect, but that has been addressed in the title of the act itself."
Finance Minister Travis Toews was also one of the critics that day. On Wednesday, he said he no longer has concerns about constitutionality, respecting the rule of law and how the act will affect businesses and jobs.
"It needed to be implemented in a way that continued to support the certainty and predictability of our economic environment. I can say that I'm supporting this bill because those issues have been addressed," Toews said.
Co-Deputy Premier Nathan Neudorf also supports the act, although he admitted he hadn't read it all. He said Smith's office didn't tell him how to vote on it.
"No, we weren't (told). We went through a lot of discussion as caucus and as cabinet and we've come to a place where the majority, if not all of our caucus, is in agreement," Neudorf told CTV News Edmonton.
'NOT WHAT HAS BEEN DEPICTED'
The Opposition NDP is calling on Smith and her government to drop the bill, at least until after a general election in the spring.
Leader Rachel Notely said the act is an "attack" on Alberta democracy because it gives cabinet ministers the power to unilaterally amend laws, once an initial resolution is approved by majority vote in the legislature.
"There is basically nothing in the bill that would limit the government's ability to act once a resolution is passed…It gives unprecedented ability to a brand new premier to overwhelm and sidestep the legislative assembly of this province," Notley told reporters.
After a series of questions from reporters Tuesday, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro confirmed that ministers would have those powers under the act as it's written.
The government issued a clarification Wednesday morning stating that a minister's actions "would still be subject to both judicial review as well as review by the legislative assembly itself."
Sawhney acknowledged the government still has work to do in explaining the act to the public.
"I think it's very important that all Albertans actually read the bill…We need to do some more communications around this, because it is not what has been depicted," Sawhney said.
Jean also disputed a reporter's question after he stated that the act "essentially gives cabinet power to unilaterally change laws."
"Then you don't know how government works if you believe that. You have to work within the parameters that you set out in the motion. That's it. That's the law!" Jean said while walking away.
'THERE ARE UNILATERAL POWERS'
But an associate professor at the University of Calgary's faculty of law sees the bill differently than Jean.
"There are unilateral powers to follow, or not follow, not just federal laws but also provincial laws. So the scope and extent of the power is perhaps the most surprising inclusion in the bill," David Wright told CTV News Edmonton.
"This bill certainly has woven into it the DNA of an emergencies statute. So we see the types of provisions and measures that are typically reserved, and only justified upon, the basis of an emergency. So it's quite surprising to see that kind of architecture in the act."
Notley worries that the bill, and the debate over what it actually means, will chase away economic investment from Alberta.
"It's a mess because they don't know what they're doing," she told reporters of Smith's inner-circle.
"There is a profound level of incompetence and/or dishonesty being perpetrated by the premier's office and the people around her…They are jeopardizing our economic recovery."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Joe Scarpelli and Kyra Markov
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was found floating over sensitive military sites in the western United States had been tracked by Canada's government since last weekend as it passed through Canadian airspace, sources tell CTV News.
The oldest preserved vertebrate brain has been found in a 319-million-year-old fossilized fish skull that was removed from an English coal mine over a century ago.
It took 40 years, but former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan is now one of eight Indigenous ex-NHL-ers being honoured hockey trading cards as a part of Upper Deck's First Peoples Rookie Card series.
A B.C. man who was mistaken for the target in a police takedown and shot by an officer in 2013 has had his lawsuit alleging negligence dismissed.
Three bodies found in a vacant Detroit-area apartment building have been identified as those of three aspiring rappers who went missing nearly two weeks ago, police said Friday.
For much of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial, witnesses have talked about a generous and loving man -- but prosecutors want jurors to know that same man stole over US$4 million from his housekeeper's relatives after she died at work, and killed his wife and son to cover up his crimes.
A senior aide to Japan's prime minister is being dismissed after making discriminatory remarks about LGBTQ2S+ people.
A jury on Friday decided Elon Musk didn't deceive investors with his 2018 tweets about electric automaker Tesla.
A new research from a citizen science program suggests that stars are disappearing before our eyes at an 'astonishing rate.'
Alberta's high court is being asked to overturn a review board decision relating to the stabbing deaths of five young people at a Calgary house party on the grounds the former provincial justice minister interfered.
Police are investigating a series of tire slashing incidents in northeast Calgary.
Thousands of Alberta lawyers are expected to take part in an online debate Monday morning over the issue of mandatory Indigenous history training.
BHP is moving forward with its plans to build the world's largest potash mine.
After months of driving around the city with an advertisement for a kidney donor on her bright red car, Debbie Onishenko will soon be able to rip off the decals as her search has ended.
The community of Dundurn is rallying behind a firefighter who lost her home in a fire.
Saskatchewan is reacting to the removal of controversial amendment G4 to Bill C-21 by the federal Liberals, which banned certain semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
Residents in Regina's North Central community are voicing safety concerns after a water main break resulted in icy sidewalk and road conditions.
A local non-profit is hoping a new office space can help reconnect Indigenous youth to their culture.
Temperatures are plummeting across the Maritimes as a blast of Arctic air moves into the region.
A seafood processing plant in Portage, N.B., has been completely destroyed following a major fire Friday afternoon.
Atlantic Lottery says it has been contacted by a player who believes they have the winning ticket to this week's $31 million Lotto Max Draw.
Speed cameras clocked a car driving 70 km/h over the limit. Here's how the owner fought the ticket and won
After being charged with speeding by a city-operated photo radar device, a Toronto family was able to successfully fight the charge in court largely due to one small detail.
The death of a longtime CBC journalist who was shoved to the ground in Toronto has now been classified as a homicide and police have issued an arrest warrant for a suspect in the case.
Police are investigating a stabbing in downtown Toronto Friday night.
The ongoing cold snap has Quebecers cranking up the heat in their homes, which Hydro-Quebe says has caused a record peak in electricity demand. In a Tweet Friday, the hydroelectricity supplier said that around 5:30 p.m., demand across the province reached 42,700 megawatts.
A reclusive billionaire who headed a Montreal tech company is stepping down one day after Radio-Canada/CBC published a report that alleged he paid teenage girls for sex for more than a decade.
The Montreal fire department is advising people to avoid Sherbrooke Street East at Carignan Avenue in the Longue Pointe neighbourhood as a five-alarm fire is burning.
A federal government department has fired 49 employees who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit while they were employed.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the cancellations and closures in the Ottawa area due to the extreme cold temperatures.
EXTREME COLD WARNING
EXTREME COLD WARNING | Deep freeze hits Ottawa, wind chill drops below -40
Extreme cold temperatures will continue to grip Ottawa and eastern Ontario Friday night and Saturday morning, with the wind chill making it feel colder than -40.
Police say they’ve arrested three people and one person was taken to hospital following an armed robbery at Conestoga Mall on Thursday.
Ontario Provincial Police are once again reminding drivers to clear the snow and ice off of their vehicles before they head out onto the road.
Waterloo regional police issued a robbery warning Thursday evening after they said two convenience stores and a restaurant in Kitchener were robbed within a 30 minute span.
Canada's newest millionaire, an 18-year-old university freshman from northern Ontario, has achieved a lot of firsts with a recent lottery win. Here is her story.
Ontario Provincial Police have closed a portion of Highway 400 north of Toronto following multiple collisions due to whiteout conditions.
An investigation that lasted almost two years has resulted in moose hunting violation convictions for six people and a lodge in Red Lake in northwestern Ontario.
A fire destroyed a popular paint and hobby shop in Winkler Thursday afternoon with black smoke prompting Winkler police to close off a stretch of Highway 32 for more than an hour.
Manitoba has expanded the types of identification acceptable for use to purchase liquor, cannabis and lottery tickets in the province.
The Winnipeg Police Service responded to two homicides in the span of two hours this week.
The mayors of Port Coquitlam and Port Moody want Nav Canada — the organization that creates flight paths for airports across the country — to pause its plans for a new YVR arrivals route that will direct many large airplanes over their communities.
'Just absolute scum of the earth': Family upset after senior with dementia defrauded by someone posing as care worker
Seventy-nine-year-old William Herbert thought the woman coming to see him was a nurse who needed to do bloodwork. But instead of helping him, it’s alleged she stole from him.
Homicide investigators are looking into whether a vehicle fire in Surrey on Thursday morning is connected to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy in Burnaby hours later.
An emergency room doctor on Vancouver Island is calling on the leadership of the health authority to resign, saying harassment by Island Health officials is prompting doctors to abandon the region amid a critical shortage of health-care workers.
A local state of emergency that was issued in Campbell River, B.C., following a landslide in mid-January has been lifted, the city announced Friday.
A man accused of fatally stabbing another man outside a busy mall in Nanaimo, B.C., has been charged with second-degree murder, according to the Nanaimo RCMP.