Passage of Alberta sovereignty bill criticized from all sides
The Alberta Sovereignty in a United Canada Act was passed in the Legislature overnight Wednesday-Thursday.
Passage, Wednesday night to Thursday, of the Act on the sovereignty of Alberta in a united Canada reacts the opposition and the native leaders, who oppose it since its tabling. Ottawa is currently ruling out challenging the law in court.
For the leader of the NDP opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Rachel Notley, this law will hurt the Alberta economy. This is a terrible signal to send to investors about the rule of law or due process if they invest in Alberta, she said.
The NDP also urges the Prime Minister to immediately seek a legal opinion from the Alberta Court of Appeal on the constitutionality of the Bill, even before it receives Royal Assent.
I believe this law will not survive the test of the courts, but out of consideration for Alberta workers, we need to get this ruling as soon as possible, she said.
The opposition New Democrats have also promised that if they win power in next May's election, they will repeal this law.
For the political scientist at Campus Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta, Frédéric Boily, the adoption of this law is a partial victory for the Premier. In terms of what she announced and what she manages to deliver, it's a first victory, but it's not a big victory yet, because there are so many challenges that it could backfire on Danielle Smith.
“The opposition against the law could continue to mount and coalesce […] that is to say the official opposition, mayors of large cities who find that the project goes too far, economic circles, in particular in Calgary. »
— Frédéric Boily, political scientist at the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean
He adds that this law was passed despite dissension within the caucus United Conservative. Some MPs, especially on the Calgary side, read the polls and maybe they are calculating that it is not with this bill that they will succeed in keeping their seat, analyzes it.
Once again, our community has not been heard, laments Tony Alexis, Chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation and spokesperson for Treaty 6 First Nations.
Yesterday, Indigenous leaders gathered in Ottawa denouncing the bills on the sovereignty of Alberta in a united Canada and the “Saskatchewan First Act”. They explained that they had not been consulted before the drafting and tabling of these bills.
Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson said Alberta's proposed sovereignty bill includes provisions to ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples are upheld.
“The law is so vague, it is open to interpretation. We are concerned that it goes too far and affects our inherent and treaty rights. »
— Tony Alexis, Spokesperson for Treaty 6 First Nations
Consulting [Indigenous peoples] isn't just a matter of courtesy, it's a legal requirement, adds NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
Last week, the federal government had ruled out, for now, the option of challenging this law in court. Asked about it today at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Justin Trudeau said his government was extremely concerned about the impact of Alberta's sovereignty law on the rights protected by treaties.
He added that according to his vision of the constitution, the relationship between the federal government and that of a province is not that of a relative vis-à-vis its child.
“As we have seen, duly elected provincial governments can pass laws with which the federal government disagrees, and the recourse for that is the court system. »
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
During his appearance before the Assembly of First Nations, Justin Trudeau was questioned about a possible legal challenge to the Alberta Sovereignty in a United Canada Act.
Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, who is also the MP for Edmonton Centre, wants to wait to see how the law will be applied before resorting to a possible challenge.
It continues to concern me, it continues to be an attack on federal laws, and it is concerning for mayors, for presidents of post-secondary institutions, for nonprofits, because it gives the legislature the power to tell them not to follow federal laws, he said.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the law puts her city in a awkward position. We depend on funding from the provincial and federal governments. This law jeopardizes these relationships and this funding, she believes.
“If the province tells us to defy federal guidelines, we will be placed in an untenable situation.
— Jyoti Gondek, Mayor of Calgary
Premier Danielle Smith announced that her government could use Alberta's Sovereignty Act to force cities to failing to comply with federal decisions, particularly on the seizure of firearms.
A year ago, University of Calgary political science professor Barry Cooper proposed in an essay that the province pass a sovereignty law. For him, if the federal government continues to act against the interests of the province, it is necessary to hold a referendum on the future of Alberta within Canada.
If Canada does not want [to be a federation], our only alternative to defend our interests is to make sure that Canada wants to negotiate. That means we have to threaten to leave him, he said today in an interview on CBC's The Current.
In a televised speech broadcast on November 22, the Prime Minister ruled out this option. Some try to scare people into thinking that this law has something to do with leaving Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth, she said, adding that her law would make Canada stronger, more prosperous and more united than ever.
For Rachel Notley, Danielle Smith's comments on the workings of the Canadian federation demonstrate an ideological closeness to these would-be fringe separatists.
Essentially, at 12:30 last night, when she thought that no one was listening, the veil was lifted on Danielle Smith's desire to really take the first steps towards a separation, believes the leader of the opposition.