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'The kind of leader I am': Smith accepts sovereignty act amendments from UCP caucus


Alberta's premier says she is OK with her caucus making changes to the sovereignty act bill she introduced last week, while the NDP argued it would be better to scrap it altogether.

On Monday, United Conservative Party MLAs voted to propose amendments to Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act.

The changes would see unilateral powers granted to Danielle Smith and her cabinet removed from the bill and would limit the scope of when it can be used.

"She's lost people's trust with this bumbling and stumbling," NDP Leader Rachel Notley alleged during question period.

"My caucus identified some issues that they wanted to address. They wanted to seek some clarity," Smith said during her response. "And that's the kind of leader I am, I want to make sure we get this bill right and I'm grateful that my caucus is going to propose amendments."

Notley called the legislation "job killing" and she criticized Smith for how the act was written and introduced to Albertans.

For days after Smith introduced the bill, she and her cabinet members rejected accusations, including from legal and constitutional scholars, that the bill granted unchecked power.

"First she said we were wrong. Then she claimed we didn't read the bill. Then she called us fear mongers. Now, she admits there are problems while her caucus demands amendments," Notley said.

"She either got caught in her attempt to seize power and is now desperately scrambling to cover that up or she literally didn't know what was in her bill."

Several of Smith's cabinet ministers were also critical of the sovereignty act idea when they ran against her for leadership of the UCP.

Brian Jean, Rajan Sawhney and Travis Toews were all part of a group that called the proposal "unconstitutional" and a "fairy tale" in September. Last week, all said their concerns had been addressed and they supported the act.

Political scientist Duane Bratt said the whole situation is embarrassing for the new premier.

"It's surprising, for something that was her signature policy, that more care wasn't put into drafting it," he told CTV News Edmonton.

After the amendments were revealed Monday, Bratt tweeted his reaction and some pointed questions for the government.

"There are still significant problems, but these amendments address two of the most egregious clauses. Two major climb downs in a span of the week. On the premier's signature bill. Deliberate? Incompetent? Both?" he asked.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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