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Why the Sovereignty Act is good for Alberta – Jason Stephan

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Submitted by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

The Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act is Good for Alberta

There is a lot of fear mongering on the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act. My purpose is to share why this Act is good for Alberta.

Eastern politicians do not like the Act. It threatens 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. They are a threat to our freedom and prosperity.

Some of them are using straw men to misrepresent the Act and then attack the worst version of it manufactured out of their misrepresentations, only existing in their minds. The Act says Alberta possesses a unique culture and shared identity within Canada.

What is Alberta’s culture and identity?

Alberta is a land of freedom and prosperity. To many Albertans, this inheritance and heritage is an integral part of our culture and identity.

Why is Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act necessary?

Is it because there are concerns we are sleepwalking towards disaster? Yes.

Is it because the morally and fiscally bankrupt Trudeau, Canada’s first NDP prime minister, government is a hostile, one trillion plus fiscal train wreck, attacking Alberta, threatening to drag us down with it? Yes.

Yet, in spite of this incompetent Ottawa, Alberta still succeeds. But they are a growing danger. We need to protect ourselves.

If Alberta was not a part of Canada, and was invited to join this rigged partnership, under current terms, would we join? No.

Is Alberta compelled to be a “host” in a parasitic relationship? No.

Alberta is not compelled to suffer constant harassment and attack.

But, what about unity? For the sake of unity, are we forced to allow ourselves to suffer attacks from politicians seeking power? No.

Albertans do not need to unite with political corruption. Unity without integrity is fake.

Canada is a dysfunctional partnership. That is the truth. Alberta is a rainmaker partner. A partnership that undermines and attacks its rainmaker partner would never survive in the real world.

There are some partners, such as Quebec, that “game” this partnership and take from Alberta families and businesses for political gain. This partnership is becoming corrupt.

A partnership where “producing” is displaced with “taking” as a ruling principle will never survive.

A foundational principle of the Act is accountability. Accountability can take a partnership that is dysfunctional and corrupt, restore integrity and make it competitive.

There are dark clouds in the horizon. Trudeau is the paymaster of the CBC and others, seek to fill our minds with mush, virtue signaling pablum.

Yet, we must prepare, we cannot be slothful, we cannot be neglectful, we cannot sit in a thoughtless stupor, not understanding, sticking heads in the sand.

The more truth, the better.

Doesn’t Ottawa seek to do indirectly, what constitutionally it is not allowed to do directly, such as with Alberta’s constitutional authority over its oil and gas resources? Yes.

Didn’t Alberta’s Court of Appeal describe Trudeau’s carbon tax as a sneaky “constitutional trojan horse”? Yes.

Isn’t Trudeau now proposing a new carbon tax or cap and trade that singles out and disproportionately punishes Alberta? Yes.

Wouldn’t that inflict more economic “chaos”, chasing out additional billions in investment and Alberta jobs with it? Yes.

Is this part of a pattern of hostile behavior from Ottawa seeking to attack and take advantage of Alberta, holding it back? Yes.

How have sternly worded letter served us?

Isn’t the purpose of this Act, to assert and defend constitutional parameters that Ottawa habitually ignores and attacks? Yes.

Under section 92A of the Constitution Act, Alberta has jurisdiction over its natural resources, not Ottawa. This Act should be invoked and say NO to Ottawa and their “discussion paper” and leave Alberta and their 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.

Boundaries support accountability, boundaries are integral to normal adult relationships. This Act seeks to impose boundaries that Ottawa continually disrespects, to discriminate, attack, and force itself into Alberta’s constitutional jurisdictions.

Ottawa is the risk that we can no longer afford, not a law that seeks to do something about it!

The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act is good for Alberta.
Alberta is a land of freedom and prosperity. We must be vigilant to keep it that way.

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Alberta

Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions

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From the Free Alberta Strategy Team

In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.

In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.

Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:

“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”

But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.

While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.

Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.

This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.

And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.

To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:

1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;

2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and

3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.

You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.

This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.

This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.

(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)

Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.

ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.

This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.

We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.

The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.

Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.

But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.

Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.

The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.

Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!

Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?

Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?

Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!

They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!

Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?

Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!

It gets worse…

Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.

Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.

That’s right folks…

Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.

We must either believe, then:

  • That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.

Or, we must believe:

  • That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.

How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?

Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.

Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:

“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”

Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.

Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!

Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.

As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.

But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.

Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.

As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!

In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.

The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.

That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.

But that’s also why we need your help.

We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.

We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.

We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.

We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.

If you’re ready to help, click here:

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Alberta

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney accepts role in Calgary advising law firm

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Jason Kenney, more than three months after stepping down as Alberta’s premier, has landed a new role as a Calgary-based adviser in law firm Bennett Jones.

Kenney, who is also a former federal cabinet minister, will work in the public policy group.

Kenney says on Twitter he looks forward to the new job and that his work won’t include lobbying the provincial government or its agencies.

He says Alberta’s ethics commissioner has signed off on his new role and Kenney says he won’t be accepting any other jobs without first checking with the commissioner.

Kenney announced last May he was stepping down as premier following a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a United Conservative Party leadership review.

Kenney was instrumental in creating the UCP in a merger with his Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, but he fell out of favour with many in the combined party over COVID-19 restrictions and what was seen as a top-down management style.

It was a not an amicable departure.

Kenney publicly clashed with his eventual successor, Premier Danielle Smith, over her plan to introduce sovereignty legislation to challenge what she considers federal intrusions into provincial areas of constitutional authority.

Kenney challenged the legality and economic effect of such a bill, and resigned as a legislature member on the day Smith’s sovereignty act was introduced last November.

Bennett Jones, with offices across Canada and in New York, said Kenney will provide advice on attracting investment in Canada’s energy sector and with Indigenous communities.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this iconic firm, which has both deep Alberta roots and a major national presence,” said Kenney in a statement Wednesday.

“Bennett Jones’ Public Policy group has the greatest policy depth of any Canadian law firm, and I look forward to working with several former colleagues from both senior elected and public service roles.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023

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