Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a press conference, in Edmonton, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta sovereignty bill introduced in legislature

The Alberta government has introduced a bill that would grant Premier Danielle Smith and her cabinet broad powers to rewrite provincial laws behind closed doors in an effort to push back against Ottawa.

The proposed legislation would also allow cabinet to direct public bodies — including school boards, universities and police forces — to not use provincial resources to enforce federal rules deemed harmful to Alberta’s interests.

The changes are proposed under the first bill of the fall legislature session, called the Alberta sovereignty within a united Canada act.

In the bill, the United Conservative Party government promises to follow court rulings and the Constitution, but says it would be up to the federal government to sue the province to resolve disputes instead of the other way around.

It says cabinet would be able to use existing powers in legislation or unilaterally amend any provincial laws it deems applicable — changes normally debated and passed in the legislature.

Smith says if the bill passes, her government would use it as early as in the spring to fight Ottawa on a slew of issues, including energy development, agriculture, health care, education, firearms, property rights and social programs.

“(The act) will be used as a constitutional shield to protect Albertans from federal overreach that is costing Alberta’s economy billions of dollars each year in lost investment and is costing Alberta families untold jobs and opportunities,” Smith said in a statement Tuesday.

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