When Danielle Smith first proposed her sovereignty act, I assumed, naively, that she meant the sovereignty of Alberta. Now, after the act has been presented and has seen the light of day, I realize the sovereignty refers to Danielle.
The legislation proposed in the legislature on Tuesday, now amusingly called the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act (Bill 1), offers the cabinet quite extraordinary powers.
It enables the Alberta Legislature to pass motions declaring that an existing or anticipated federal law or policy is unconstitutional or “causes or is anticipated to cause harm to Albertans.”
According to Eric M. Adams, professor of Canadian constitutional law at the University of Alberta, once the resolution is passed cabinet will have the power “to direct a wide array of institutions and organizations within the province—police forces, cities and towns, hospitals, provincial public agencies, school boards, colleges and universities—to refuse to enforce, and perhaps to actively resist, the application of valid federal law. That includes provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.” Cabinet could also amend provincial law to provide further measures to resist federal initiatives without going through the inconvenience of debate in the legislature. Professor Adams refers to “Henry VIII clauses.”
For good measure, the bill restricts Albertans’ rights to challenge use of the act’s powers in court and protects anybody, including cabinet ministers and MLAs, carrying out the act’s provisions from civil liability.
Simply introducing the act without an election, i.e. without a mandate from the people, is in itself autocratic and arrogant—the act of a sovereign, perhaps? On the one hand, Smith claims she hopes she rarely has to use the law, but on the other hand has apparently directed her cabinet ministers to seek out federal “intrusions” into provincial jurisdiction, i.e. look for trouble.
Is this separatism by stealth? Alberta separatists have long tried to convince their fellow citizens to separate from Canada and have consistently failed. So have they decided to bypass the people and go right to the top, to capture the premier herself? This bill, despite reference to a “united Canada” has the smell of separation all over it.
And if so, is the notoriously credulous Smith a willing participant or a dupe? This is a lady whose own staff have suggested she lacks “crazy radar.” And a lady who practically defines provincialism.
As a citizen of this province, I so tire of this juvenile fed-bashing. I understand the political imperative. Nothing rallies the troops like an enemy, and for Alberta politicians the enemy of choice has always been the federal Liberals. But enough is enough and this bill goes way over the line. We have enough division in the country without institutionalizing it in asinine legislation.
So please Danielle, you’ve made your point. We know you’re a tough guy. Now you’re just embarrassing our province. Time to grow up and govern. Time to start dealing with real issues.