Shortly after the Speech from the Throne on Tuesday, the Alberta Government introduced Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act.
It was a promise from Premier Danielle Smith to challenge Ottawa with more vigour and the new act contains elements of that promise.
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.
The province issued a clarification on the act Wednesday, stating “Cabinet is only authorized to amend existing legislation as specifically outlined in a resolution brought under the act. The resolution, including any amendments to legislation, must first be introduced, debated, voted on and passed by the legislative assembly.
“In no way does the Sovereignty within a United Canada Act permit cabinet to unilaterally amend legislation without those amendments being first authorized by the legislative assembly. If there is any dispute as to whether or not cabinet amended legislation outside of the specific recommendations contained in the resolution, including any amendments by the legislative assembly to the resolution, such actions would still be subject to both judicial review as well as review by the legislative assembly itself.”
-With files from the Canadian Press