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 massive white orb drifting across U.S. airspace has triggered a diplomatic maelstrom and is blowing up on social media. A look at what's known about the balloon crossing the U.S. and what isn't.
Dozens of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war have returned home following a prisoner swap, officials on both sides said Saturday.
Marit Stiles has been confirmed as the new leader of the Ontario NDP after a majority of party members voted in favour of the lone candidate.
W5 Investigates | Daniel Jolivet insists he's not a murderer and says he has proof
Convicted murderer Daniel Jolivet, in prison for the past 30 years, has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested. W5 reviews the evidence he painstakingly assembled while behind bars. W5's documentary 'Buried Evidence' airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on CTV.
An early study has shown keeping your gums and teeth healthy may have added benefits for your brain health.
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.
In a terrible way, the death of Tyre Nichols brings vindication to members of the Black community in Memphis who live in terror of police.
In the field of cancer treatment, nothing is more important than diagnosing and treating the problem as quickly as possible — but according to new survey data, about one in four Canadian cancer patients report that they are still experiencing cancelled or postponed appointments.
A train derailment and resulting large fire prompted an evacuation order and a declaration of a state of emergency in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line on Friday night, covering the area in billows of smoke lit orange by the flames below.
Friday night, a vandal lent a sour note to a celebratory event in Calgary's Chinatown, when they smashed up an ice sculpture.
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.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes kept Connor Bedard off the scoresheet for the first time in 36 games, but it wasn't enough, as the 'Canes lost 3-2 to the Regina Pats Friday night.
BHP is moving forward with its plans to build the world's largest potash mine.
A child has been charged in the shooting death of another child on George Gordon First Nation, according to Saskatchewan RCMP.
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 Regina Police Service (RPS) is asking the public for information to aid in a shooting investigation in northwest Regina.
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.
With all of the Maritimes still under extreme cold warnings Saturday, more than 18,000 households and businesses are without power, as of 2 p.m.
The first North Atlantic right whale to be entangled in connection to Canada’s lobster fishery in over five years has been successfully rescued by marine mammal rescue responders in the United States.
A woman has died after a Friday fire at a home in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis County.
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.
'It's not bouncing back:' Workers continue to return to downtown Toronto but recovery lags behind some cities
Torontonians appear to be returning downtown in greater numbers but the pace of the city’s economic recovery still lags behind many other North American cities, a new study suggests.
Residents from Quebec to Newfoundland and Labrador are waking up this morning to more extreme cold weather. Emergency officials warned people to seek shelter and monitor for frostbite if they had to be outside overnight, as the temperature across much of Eastern Canada was expected to feel like -40 C to -50 C with the wind chill.
The opening of the Quebec Winter Carnival sites has been postponed again, this time to 2 p.m. on Saturday, due to the extreme cold.
A Quebec university study found that nearly three years of the pandemic have had an effect on the travel habits of Quebecers: even with the partial or complete lifting of restrictions, they increasingly prefer to travel at home. The most recent Cahier des tendances published by the Transat Chair in Tourism at the École des sciences de la gestion de l'UQAM revealed that inflation and health measures hurt many Quebecers.
Ottawa firefighters responded to three fires overnight and a fourth late in the morning as extreme cold gripped the capital.
Ottawa paramedics say one person was injured in a crash on Highway 417 Saturday morning.
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.
Police say they’ve arrested three people and one person was taken to hospital following an armed robbery at Conestoga Mall on Thursday.
The Kitchener Rangers faced off against the Guelph Storm Friday night at the Aud.
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.
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.
W5 Investigates | Daniel Jolivet insists he's not a murderer and says he has proof
The owner of Radical Gardens, a restaurant in Timmins said she's experienced nineteen robberies over the last eight years; with the most recent one taking place in the early morning hours Friday.
On Feb. 1, the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) increased the "farm gate milk price" by 2.2 per cent.
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.
A man who took part in four traffic-stopping protests in Metro Vancouver in an effort to save old-growth forests has been given a conditional sentence and six months' probation by a provincial court judge.
Some legal advocates are questioning the effectiveness of police-worn body cameras as the RCMP plans to roll out the technology across the country.
Vancouver Canucks faithful have seen it all during yet another disappointing season - and several say they're frustrated not only with the on-ice performance, but with a lack of answers from the team's front office.
Goldstone Consignment Boutique in downtown Duncan was recently hit by two smash-and-grab thefts within a 26-hour period.