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Alberta

How will Alberta’s new Premier deal with Ottawa? These are the approaches of four leading candidates

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21 minute read

No matter who wins the UCP Leadership race, you can count on a turbulent relationship with Ottawa.  Albertans have long had issues with how the Liberal government stifles the critical Oil and Gas industry.  Now Alberta’s farmers are finding out what that feels like, as the federal government is introducing measures to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer they use.

To add to the level of animosity between the two governments, a growing number of Alberta UCP supporters are voicing dissatisfaction over Covid restrictions and mandates.  This group is active politically, and seems to be rallying behind frontrunner Daniel Smith and likeminded Todd Loewen.  The idea is to avoid future restrictions and mandates provincially, and stand up against any federal measures.

It’s no coincidence then, that the leading candidates in the UCP race all have strong platform initiatives to stand up to Ottawa.  Here’s what they look like, beginning with Danielle Smith’s “Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Danielle Smith – Alberta Sovereignty Act

It is clear that my proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act has thus far been the central issue of the UCP leadership campaign. Tens of thousands of Albertans have embraced the idea of actually standing up to Ottawa’s attacks against us, rather than usual ineffective letter writing campaigns and complaining.

It’s been both exciting and heartwarming to see hope restored to so many in our Province, and I want them to know how much their faith and confidence in this initiative strengthen my personal resolve to see it through.

Unsurprisingly, many in the media and establishment do not support the Alberta Sovereignty Act and have turned to the tried and tested methods of fearmongering and disinformation to discredit the idea. Unfortunately, some of my fellow UCP candidates may have fallen into their trap.

My hope in releasing this FAQ sheet on the Alberta Sovereignty Act, is that more Albertans and MLAs will take a thoughtful look at this policy, and join the growing majority of Albertans who want to see us stand up to Ottawa, restore our constitutional rights, and take control of our future in this manner.

I am sincerely looking forward to implementing this critically important piece of legislation together.

– Danielle Smith

What is the Alberta Sovereignty Act?

A proposed provincial law that would affirm the authority of the Provincial Legislature to refuse enforcement of any Federal law or policy that violates the jurisdictional rights of Alberta under Sections 92 – 95 of the Constitution or that breaches the Charter Rights of Albertans.

How will it be used?

When the Federal Government institutes a law or policy that appears to violate the constitution or Charter, the Government of Alberta may introduce a Special Motion for a free vote of all MLAs in the Legislature. The Special Motion would include the following:

1. Identification of the Federal law or policy that it deems to be in violation of the Constitution

2. An Outline of the specific harms that violation of the Constitution imposes on the citizens of Alberta

3. Description of the specific actions the Province will take to refuse the enforcement of that Federal law or policy in Alberta

4. A Declaration that by authority of the Alberta Sovereignty Act and notwithstanding the specific Federal law or policy in question, it shall not be enforced by the Provincial Government within Alberta in the manner outlined by the Special Motion

5. Imposition a specific time frame (no more than 24 months) by which the Special Motion will be reviewed in the Legislature

Will a Premier or Governing Party be able to refuse enforcement of any Federal Law or Policy they don’t like?

No, the Alberta Sovereignty Act may not be used unless specifically authorized by way of a free vote of all elected MLAs in the Alberta Legislature, as explained above.

What examples of Federal Laws will the Alberta Sovereignty Act be applied to?

Examples could include:

– Federal mandatory vaccination policies – Charter violation

– Use of Emergencies Act to jail & freeze accounts of peaceful protesters – Charter violation

– Bill C-69 ‘No New Pipelines’ Law – found unconstitutional by Alberta Court of Appeal

– Mandatory cuts to fertilizer use by Alberta Farmers – violation of s.95

– Mandatory emissions and production cuts to Alberta energy projects – violation of s.92A

– Federal gun grabs – violation of s.92(13)

Is the Alberta Sovereignty Act about Separation from Canada?

No, the entire objective of the Alberta Sovereignty Act is to assert Alberta’s Constitutional Rights within Canada to the furthest extent possible by effectively governing itself as a Nation within a Nation, just as Quebec has done for decades and as Saskatchewan is also now considering.

If anything, the restoration of provincial rights and autonomy of every province from the destructive overreach of Ottawa is likely the only viable way for Canada to survive and flourish into the future. Ottawa’s “divide, control and conquer’ policies have Canada on a path of division and disunity. Alberta can and must lead on this issue going forward.

Is the Alberta Sovereignty Act illegal or does it run contrary to the rule of law?

No, just the opposite.

Over the last several years the Federal Government has triggered a constitutional crisis through repeated lawless attacks on provincial constitutional rights and the Charter.

The Trudeau Government has effectively imposed economic sanctions against Alberta (and parts of Saskatchewan and BC) that have resulted in economic chaos.

Hundreds of billions in investment and tax revenues, and hundreds of thousands of jobs, have been lost to these sanctions as investors around the world find it too risky to do business in Alberta’s energy industry. In fact, no new major development of our world class oil sands has been commenced in almost 20 years as a result.

The idea expressed by some UCP leadership candidates that the Alberta Sovereignty Act would “cause chaos” in the markets is naive in the extreme. The “chaos” is already here and has been caused by both Ottawa’s unlawful policies and an utter lack of provincial leadership on effectively pushing back against those attacks.

The fact is the Alberta Sovereignty Act reimposes constitutional rule of law on a lawless Ottawa by reaffirming the critical import of respecting the powers and jurisdiction of the Provinces under the Canadian Constitution.

 

Brian Jean – Autonomy For Albertans Act

I started with policies designed to change how Alberta reacts to the federal government and Canada. I want us to stop being defensive and go on the offensive. We have to stop covering up and we have to take the fight to Canada. 

The five sets of actions that will protect and enhance Alberta’s Autonomy Within Canada are:

  1. Serve legal notice invoking section 46 of the Constitution and force Trudeau and the Premiers into negotiations.
  2. Stipulate that Alberta government-funded groups will not be able to participate in the WEF.
  3. Use the courts to challenge the tanker ban, the proposed oil production caps, and the fertilizer caps.
  4. Demand the Quebec government stop taking the assets of Alberta energy companies in Quebec and get their attention by acting against SNC Lavalin.
  5. Demand that Alberta be given Canada’s seat on important international energy institutions, just like Quebec gets Canada’s seat at UN cultural institutions.
These actions and this approach is very different than how Alberta has traditionally acted. This is very different from what the other leadership candidates are proposing. First this is about acting, about doing something. The “Alberta Sovereignty Act” proposal is purely defensive and reactive. Instead of saying to Canada “we won’t enforce your rules if you come after us,” I am saying that we need to take the initiative.
The Constitution has not been opened in 30 years.
My proposals are about taking ACTION and going on the offense. Danielle Smith proposes a purely defensive strategy that surrenders on past fights. Travis Toews has no strategy at all in this area — he wants to continue Jason Kenney’s practice of writing stern and meaningless letters whenever we get stepped on.
When we open the Constitution, we can deal with the issues of: pipelines and right-of-ways, access to tidewater, stopping provinces and the federal government from landlocking provinces, and democratic under-representation. Taking the fight to the rest of Canada is the way to actually get results and reverse the damage.
Passing an unconstitutional “Sovereignty Act” that only kicks in the next time we are punched doesn’t change anything. It will likely encourage Trudeau to hit Alberta harder.
Fighting the efforts of the World Economic Forum to change our society is something Alberta should have been doing all along.
No $$ to WEF
As is using the courts intelligently including as a way to get expert testimony into the record in important legal debates. 
Fight the tanker ban, the production caps, and the fertilizer caps
Fighting back against the insults of Quebec and the federal government should have always been our policy. Instead under Jason Kenney we too often gave away things hoping that other provinces would return the favour. They did not.
We play tit for tat with Quebec.
Finally, we should learn from Quebec and have our position in the world recognized by Canada. Alberta is an energy superpower and it should own Canada’s seat at the global table whenever energy issues are discussed. 
We get the Energy seat.

Travis Toews – Toews’ Strategy to Strengthen Alberta

I’m running to ensure our children and grandchildren have the same kind of opportunities and freedoms that Kim and I have been blessed with.

We must strengthen Alberta’s place in Canada and win meaningful reforms. Threats and sternly worded letters aren’t enough, and radical actions that create chaos will only set us back.

I have a real plan that uses our economic and fiscal strength to our advantage. A plan that is strategic. A plan that will get us results.

Here’s my plan to strengthen Alberta:

1. REFORM EQUALIZATION AND FISCAL STABILIZATION.

  • The Fiscal Stabilization program supports provinces experiencing a sudden drop in revenue. These stabilization payments are capped at a low level. As Finance Minister, I led negotiations to raise the cap by $500 million for Albertans. I will continue working to increase this cap.
  • The equalization formula expires in 2024 and I’ll fight to ensure it is renegotiated for fairness, rather than simply being renewed like it was in 2014 and 2019.

2. LAY THE GROUNDWORK AND BUILD SUPPORT AMONG ALBERTANS TO OPT-IN TO AN ALBERTA PENSION PLAN.

  • I’ve always believed that an Alberta Pension Plan holds great promise for Albertans. As Finance Minister, this file was on my desk and I’m convinced an Alberta Pension Plan is an incredible opportunity for the province. If we’re going to win on this critical opportunity, it must be handled strategically in methodology, approach, and timing. We can’t afford to lose, and if this is not done right, we could lose this transformative opportunity for future generations.
  • I will make the case with Albertans for a provincial pension plan. I’m confident we will see this is a transformative opportunity for us to gain autonomy, lower premiums, increase pension benefits, boost our financial sector, and have a more reliable pension long-term.

3. SHIFT TAX POWER FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS. 

  • I’ll work with other Premiers to shift the tax power from the federal government to provincial governments. This allows provinces to have the tax capacity to deliver services like childcare, pharma care, and dental care. It would provide Albertans with more autonomy, and make it easier for us to deliver high quality services to all Albertans while balancing the budget.

4. DEFEND AND ADVANCE ALBERTA’S KEY ECONOMIC SECTORS LIKE ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE.

  • Energy and agriculture are the lifeblood of many Alberta communities. My wife Kim and I know this well from our ranching operation and oilfield service company.
  • To back Alberta’s energy and agricultural sectors against Ottawa’s targeted attacks, as Premier I would:
    • Pass enabling legislation so that when Ottawa attacks Alberta’s economy we have a potential suite of targeted levies on goods and contracts we can begin to apply and escalate as needed.
    • Use my experience as an international trade negotiator to lead on the energy file by engaging American and foreign leaders directly.
    • Continue supporting the ongoing legal challenge against C-69 the “No more pipelines act”.
    • Work with Saskatchewan and Manitoba to expand the Port of Churchill to get our energy and agriculture products to world markets.
    • Ensure Ottawa’s climate policies treat all heavy emitters equally instead of targeting Albertans. We can be environmental leaders without impoverishing our future.
    • Enhance the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation so that more Indigenous communities can be full partners in responsible prosperity.

5. EXPLORE AN ALBERTA PROVINCIAL POLICE SERVICE WITH RURAL ALBERTANS AND MUNICIPAL LEADERS.

  • Kim and I have experienced multiple thefts in our businesses over the years. I know rural crime is a large problem. I am committed to increasing safety for all Albertans by improving policing services.
  • I have deep respect for the RCMP and the work they do to provide safety to Albertans. I also believe there is merit in exploring a provincial police service. This could reduce bureaucracy and lead to an improved culture in the policing service.
  • This is not a policy I would implement on day one. Before moving forward, I would ensure rural Albertans and municipal leaders ultimately support the decision.

 

Rebecca Schulz – 100 DAY PROVINCIAL RIGHTS STRATEGY

A Schulz government would immediately start the 100 Day Provincial Rights Action Plan, with clear steps – and a timeline – to fight, negotiate, partner, and strengthen Alberta’s position with Confederation.

No more letters, no more panels, and no more empty threats – Albertans want action and results when it comes to defending our rights in confederation and seeing our province reach its full potential.” – Rebecca Schulz 

Within the first 10 days, a Schulz government will appoint a Deputy Premier and team with the primary focus to act as Alberta’s lead negotiators in strengthening Alberta’s position in Canada.

This will include:

  1. Presenting the federation with a package of common sense reforms on equalization, fiscal stabilization, and greater provincial control over programs through tax points
  2. Presenting the federation with a list of federal, provincial overlap in regulations/policy and begin negotiations on disentanglement
  3. Pursuing an Alberta Pension Plan, Alberta Employment Insurance and an Alberta Revenue Agency

Within the first 50 days, Schulz and the Deputy Premier would present a Provincial Rights

Framework, to identify every legal and constitutional measure possible to stand up against Ottawa’s continued attacks on provincial jurisdiction.

This will include:

  1. Calling for a Protecting Provincial Rights Summit to bring provinces to the table and identify every measure to stand up for jurisdictional rights against federal interference
  2. Continuing the fight against the Tanker Ban (C-48) and Trudeau’s No-More Pipelines legislation (C-69), alongside all 10 provinces
  3. Taking every proactive legal measure possible against Trudeau’s federal emissions and fertilizer caps.

Within the first 100 days, Schulz and the Deputy Premier would present a new Market Access Plan to create political and economic incentives for federal and provincial governments to negotiate with Alberta in good faith for improved trade and market access.

This will include:

  1. Identifying strategic actions to deter other provinces or levels of government from limiting Alberta’s market access and trade
  2. Developing criteria for when Alberta will Turn off the Taps through the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act.

“You don’t need to spend weeks on the campaign trail to understand how frustrated Albertans are of being pushed around. The emissions and fertilizer caps are just two of the most recent examples of governments interfering with our provincial trade and prosperity. It’s about time Albertans were presented with a real plan to take action.” – Rebecca Schulz

 

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Alberta

Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage. 

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do. 

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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