One of the leading candidates to replace Jason Kenney as Alberta’s premier says that if he wins, legislation would come this fall to override federal laws along with steps to create a provincial police force and tax collection agency.
Danielle Smith said the legislature would need to pass an Alberta Sovereignty Act as soon as possible to allow Alberta to repeal federal dictates on COVID-19, such as mandating vaccines for children or a third dose for everyone.
He also said it is imperative to put in place an Alberta police force and a separate tax collection agency needed to enforce sovereignty legislation because they are multi-year initiatives.
“We want to have clear legislation so that (federal officials) understand that we are simply not going to pass a policy that violates the rights of Albertans,” Smith said in an interview.
“That would be a mechanism for them to know that we are serious about enforcing our jurisdiction.”
Alberta’s sovereignty law would give the legislature the discretion to refuse to enforce federal laws or court decisions that it deems an intrusion on provincial rights or a threat to provincial interests.
Smith said that with Alberta’s economy and population growing, it is critical to act now to send a message to the federal government and its members of the United Conservative Party that the time for mere saber rattling is over.
She said she is not pioneering, but following in the footsteps of provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, which have chosen to reject Ottawa’s dictates on policies ranging from drug laws to oil pipelines with impunity.
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She said the UCP is mandated to implement such sweeping legislation immediately instead of presenting it as a platform in the May 2023 election.
He pointed to a provincial referendum last fall in which nearly 62 percent said they wanted equalization removed from the constitution.
It also highlighted a Fair Dealing Panel that issued a report two years ago urging the province to pursue autonomy issues like an Alberta pension plan and a police force.
“There’s been enough conversation about this that I have a good gauge of where people are,” Smith said. “It seems to me that we have a mandate to move.”
In Calgary, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said Smith is not mandated to take such “extreme political positions.” She said the UCP should focus on solving Albertans’ problems, such as waiting times for health care and rising costs due to inflation, rather than “picking fights with Ottawa.”
Three University of Calgary law professors have also refuted Smith’s ideas.
They said such a sovereignty law would not only be “fundamentally illegal” but would be a wrecking ball for Canada’s constitutional order, the separation of powers and the rule of law that underpins a healthy democracy and protects against “arbitrary state power.” ”.
“Alberta’s sovereignty law sets a dangerous course in that direction,” write Martin Olszynski, Jonnette Watson Hamilton, and Shaun Fluker in their analysis. Fluker is also running for the NDP in the 2023 election.
Olszynski said in an interview Thursday that while there are concerns and debates about how other provinces interpret or enforce federal laws, “it is unprecedented in modern Canadian history for a political movement to declare that it will ignore the courts.”
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He added that politicians who speak in this way should not be tolerated.
“Once you give power to someone who has explicitly and deliberately told you that they are prepared to ignore the rule of law, then they are prepared to ignore it whenever they want.”
The sovereignty law is the central policy proposal of the Free Alberta Strategy.
The strategy was laid out last September in a policy paper authored by former Wildrose party member Rob Anderson, University of Calgary political science professor Barry Cooper and attorney Derek From.
They argue that federal laws, policies and overreach are mortally damaging Alberta’s development.
They urge a two-pronged strategy to assert greater autonomy for Alberta within the Confederation while at the same time laying the political and administrative foundations for Alberta’s transition to secession and sovereignty should negotiations fail.
Smith is one of eight candidates running to replace Kenney as party leader and prime minister.
She is a former leader of the Wildrose Party, which merged with the Kenney Progressive Conservatives in 2017 to create the current UCP.
The winner will be named on October 6. Early polls suggest Smith is one of the favorites.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 23, 2022.
Alberta UCP Leadership Candidate Danielle Smith Promises Immediate Sovereignty Law appeared first on CityNews Edmonton.