I supported the concept of the Alberta Sovereignty Act before the UCP leadership race. It was developed by the Free Alberta Strategy. I participated in their townhalls supporting their strategies, as did two of the UCP leadership candidates, Danielle Smith and Todd Loewen. Jason Kenney and his cabinet ministers did not.
What is the Alberta Sovereignty Act?
The Sovereignty Act affirms Alberta’s right to refuse and reject Federal Government actions or laws that intrude into provincial areas of jurisdiction or attack the interests of Alberta.
Ottawa recently released a “discussion paper” seeking to limit, or impose additional carbon taxes on, oil and gas development. This is not an isolated incident; this is a pattern of hostile behavior from Ottawa seeking to attack and take advantage of Alberta, holding it back.
Albertans should be aware that this discussion paper is likely a pretext, an excuse to either take more money from Alberta or prevent it from excelling ahead of other provinces.
Albertans should be aware that at any time Ottawa may leverage the Supreme Court of Canada decision permitting carbon taxes, overruling our Court of Appeal describing Ottawa’s carbon taxes as a “constitutional trojan horse”, to impose a targeted windfall or carbon tax on Alberta’s natural resources that discriminates and disproportionately punishes Alberta while sparing Ontario and Quebec from burden or harm.
The Supreme Court of Canada says carbon taxes are a tool that Ottawa has its disposal at any time to punish Alberta, yet under section 92A of the Constitution Act, Alberta has jurisdiction over its natural resources, not Ottawa.
The Alberta Sovereignty Act should be invoked to reject the “discussion paper” and tell Ottawa to leave Alberta and its constitutional jurisdiction alone.
The unfortunate truth is that Ottawa has made itself an unpredictable and hostile variable, a threat to the freedom and prosperity of Alberta businesses and families that should not be underestimated. Alberta is compelled to protect itself.
Does the Establishment like the Alberta Sovereignty Act? No.
Many Eastern politicians and their media pundits do not like the Alberta Sovereignty Act. It challenges the status quo they benefit under.
Their status quo has enabled a pattern of abuse and economic warfare on Alberta, disrespecting its jurisdiction over its resources, creating chaos and injecting commercial uncertainty, chasing away billions in private sector investments and thousands of Alberta jobs.
Albertans are becoming more aware that this is a rigged partnership. Alberta businesses and families give hundreds of millions more to Ottawa than they receive in return, with Ottawa using our money, not to benefit Alberta, but for political gain, primarily in Quebec, the structural welfare recipient under the partnership. Equalization is one of the devices that Ottawa uses for this purpose.
Albertans want change. Alberta held an equalization referendum. Ottawa ignored the result –to them Alberta is means to an end, they want our money. Strongly worded letters from Alberta politicians have accomplished nothing. It is time for less words and more actions.
Boundaries are reasonable and normal.
Boundaries are integral to adult relationships. The Alberta Sovereignty Act seeks to impose boundaries that Ottawa continually disrespects, to discriminate, attack, and force itself into Alberta’s constitutional jurisdictions.
Some of the UCP leadership candidates say the Alberta Sovereignty Act will produce chaos. They are wrong. It is a morally and fiscally bankrupt Ottawa, a trillion dollar plus fiscal train wreck, that is producing chaos. Ottawa is the risk that we can no longer afford, not a law that seeks to do something about it!
The Alberta Sovereignty Act is good for Alberta. Wisely applied it can help protect the Alberta Advantage, as the most attractive Canadian jurisdiction to start and grow a business, to work and raise our families. Alberta is a land of freedom and opportunity for us and our children. We must be vigilant to keep it that way.
Jason Stephan is the MLA for Red Deer-South.