Smith tables controversial sovereignty act, which is 'likely' to survive in court
Danielle Smith introduced the Sovereignty within a United Canada Act in the legislature Tuesday while trying to reassure Albertans that it has nothing to do with leaving the country.
Government documents say it's not certain the legislation will survive a court challenge but it's "likely" that it will.
"A long and painful history of mistreatment and constitutional overreach from Ottawa has for decades caused tremendous frustration for Albertans," Smith told reporters.
"In response, we're finally telling the federal government: 'No more.' It's time to stand up for Alberta."
Smith promised a "sovereignty act" during her run for United Conservative Party leader. She won that race on Oct. 6 with roughly 54 per cent of votes on the sixth ballot. She was sworn in as premier Oct. 11.
During a televised address last week, Smith revealed that the "within a United Canada" part had been added.
Meant to be a "constitutional shield to protect Albertans from federal overreach," the act is supposed to defend property rights, natural resources, agriculture, firearms, economic regulation, healthcare delivery, education and social programs, according to the government.
- Alberta not proceeding with Premier Smith's bill to protect COVID-19 unvaccinated
- Alberta legislature to resume sitting Tuesday: Here's what you need to know
"It's intended to be fully democratic and transparent. Each proposed use of the act will require a special motion to be passed in the legislative assembly, which will be subject to open discussion, examination and review," Smith said.
The premier said the federal government can take Alberta to court if it doesn't like the UCP government's sovereignty positions, rather than the province having to initiate legal action.
HOW WOULD IT WORK?
The details of the proposed bill, and thus the effect it could have on Alberta and Canada, have been speculated on for weeks. The province released a fact sheet Tuesday providing an initial outline on how it would work.
If passed, the act would allow any cabinet minister, including the premier, to identify federal initiatives and legislation that are deemed unconstitutional or "harmful to Albertans" and introduce a motion in the legislature to invoke it.
Those motions could also include suggestions for how to fight back against Ottawa's initiatives.
MLAs would then debate and vote on the resolution in the legislature. A majority approval would be needed and government MLAs, the premier says, would be free to vote according to their conscience.
If a motion passes, cabinet ministers would then be authorized to ignore or "push back" against federal policies and direct provincial entities like health authorities, school boards, municipalities or local police to not enforce them.
The government says Alberta will continue to respect court rulings, something that was not clear when Smith initially proposed a sovereignty act.
"Nothing in this bill involves separation, nor does it provide a means to accomplish such ends. Rather it is a way for this great province to hold the federal government accountable to the constitutional principles that serve as the very foundation of our country's governance," Smith said.
OPPOSITION TO THE ACT
Smith's sovereignty act idea was immediately controversial in Alberta, including within the government caucus.
Several government MLAs spoke out against the act during the UCP leadership race and former leader and premier Jason Kenney called it "cockamamie" and "the Alberta suicide act" during his final days in office.
Kenney and others were concerned that the act would scare off business and jobs by making Alberta an unstable market to invest in.
But Smith's government argues that won't happen and that federal "intrusion" in Alberta has caused "hundreds of billions of dollars to flee Alberta" over the past decade, however no accounting of that was provided.
Kenney resigned as MLA for Calgary-Lougheed on Tuesday.
The bill has also been called "dangerous and damaging" by Chiefs from Treaty 6, 7 and 8, who vowed to fight the act during a joint press conference on Nov.18.
- Alberta treaty chiefs unite against United Conservatives' proposed sovereignty act
- Alberta sovereignty act, protection for the unvaccinated part of Shandro's mandate
“We take offence to Danielle Smith's forthcoming sovereignty act and outright reject it,” said Arthur Noskey, Grand Chief of Treaty 8, who added there had been no consultation with First Nations leaders.
Noskey renewed his objections in a Tuesday news release.
"The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act is just another unlawful attempt to continue the province’s deliberate abuse and exploitation of our peoples, lands, territories, and resources," the Grand Chief stated.
Smith has since promised to meet with the Chiefs in person to assure them that the act will not impact their treaty rights.
The Opposition NDP voted against Smith's sovereignty bill, in part out of concern that the act would give cabinet "new powers to unilaterally bypass the democratic will of the legislature" by amending laws after an initial motion has passed. Smith denies this is what the legislation intends.
“Danielle Smith was elected by one per cent of the Alberta voters and now she wants to give herself dictatorial powers,” said deputy leader Sarah Hoffman.
“Danielle Smith and the UCP are focused on creating more chaos, costs and conflict with her sovereignty act.”
WHAT TRUDEAU, MINISTERS ARE SAYING ABOUT IT
Asked about the incoming act on his way into question period on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he's "just going to stay focused on the things that matter to Albertans."
"Whether it's affordability, whether it's creating jobs, whether it's working constructively to fight climate change and grow a better future. That's what Albertans are focused on. That's what I'm going to stay focused on," the prime minister said.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he'd wait until he'd read the legislation before commenting but that once it was tabled he'd "obviously look carefully," because some of what was floated around the bill during the leadership race "may or may not involve federal jurisdiction."
"We’re not running around looking for fire alarms and looking for squabbles and hassles. As I say, we have on a number of fronts a positive relationship with the government of Alberta. The Alberta Legislature has sovereign constitutional jurisdiction within their own division of powers, so if they propose to legislate things that are properly within the jurisdiction of the Alberta legislature, the people of Alberta and the members of that legislature are responsible for those decisions," LeBlanc said.
"We’ll do the same thing in the Parliament of Canada, but we’re not going to get distracted from working on positive things with all the provincial governments, and they can decide what legislation they want to table in their legislatures at whatever time they want."
- Federal Liberal cabinet minister from Alberta concerned with proposed sovereignty act
- Alberta lieutenant-governor says not a done deal she'll OK proposed sovereignty act
Alberta-based Minister of Tourism and Associate Finance Minister Randy Boissonnault told reporters that while he too wants to read the bill for himself, he's "deeply concerned by what is the government of Alberta’s attack on Canadian unity."
Describing Alberta's move as trying to "cherry pick" which laws apply to them, Boissonnault said Albertans are "not talking to me about sovereignty."
"They were talking to me about jobs, about indexing the benefits that they get. They were talking about the prime minister’s good performance at the inquiries, and quite frankly, they were talking about him being on Drag Race Canada… So [the] sovereignty act is not on the minds of Albertans," he said.
With files from CTV News' Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press
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.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | This was Ottawa's busiest photo radar camera in 2022
The 17 automated speed enforcement cameras set up in school zones across the city of Ottawa issued a total of 127,939 speeding tickets in 2022.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Winterlude's outdoor activities resume today after an extremely cold start to the festival
Canadian Heritage says Winterlude's outdoor activities will resume in Ottawa and Gatineau on Saturday, one day after the extreme cold weather cancelled all outdoor events.
A federal government department has fired 49 employees who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit while they were employed.
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.
Winnipeg police released a new image of a 31-year-old woman who has been missing since early last year on Friday in the hope it may generate new information on her whereabouts.
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 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.