We’ve been so focused on the unconstitutionality of Danielle Smith’s central campaign promise, the passage of the Alberta Sovereignty Act (ASA), that we’ve forgotten that the ASA is part of the Free Alberta Strategy’s grand plan to renegotiate our place in Confederation—to “free” Alberta from “intolerable” abuse at the hands of the federal government—failing which we walk.
Let me repeat that: WE WALK.
Smith appears to have embraced the Free Alberta Strategy (FAS) without reservation. The fact that she hasn’t addressed what the FAS describes as “The Final Resort: National Independence” boggles the mind.
She’s running to be Alberta’s next premier. If she intends to follow the FAS to the bitter end, she should tell us.
The FAS proposal
The FAS sets out a number of “reforms” that must be addressed to achieve provincial sovereignty, and if the feds fall short, then bonus! the FAS’s “reforms” will “better prepare Alberta for national political sovereignty.”
Why? Because we’ll have already done the legwork to consolidate most of Alberta’s “economic, environmental and resource governance, revenue collection, social services, law enforcement, and judicial powers,” while also expanding our provincially regulated financial institutions and intergovernmental affairs.
Here’s what the FAS proposes:*
- Enact the Alberta Sovereignty Act to give the Alberta government the right to ignore federal laws and federal court decisions. An act that is unconstitutional and upends the rule of law and the role of democratic institutions. Great start.
- Replace the RCMP with Alberta Provincial Police so the federal government and courts can’t enforce federal laws. But the APP isn’t enough so the ‘cut red tape, small government’ strategy proposes a bunch more legislation and government ministries.
- Enact the Alberta Independent Banking Act to create more provincially regulated financial institutions like the ATB and credit unions for the sole purpose of preventing the feds from enforcing federal laws, eg if the feds fine a garage owner for failing to collect and remit carbon taxes they won’t be able to garnishee the business’s bank account because he banks with the credit union. If you’re a corporation like Suncor and you don’t want to bank at a credit union you’re out of luck.
- Enact the Equalization Termination and Tax Collection Act to create the Alberta Revenue Agency to collect provincial taxes and the Alberta Public Services Employer to issue paycheques to Alberta public employees and remit federal withholding tax to the Alberta Revenue Agency which will decide how much to send Ottawa after it deducts what it believes it is owed. All this is founded on a fundamental misunderstanding of how equalization works.
- Incent (pay) private companies to bank with ATB and credit unions so they too can remit their employee’s federal tax deductions to the Alberta Revenue Agency. This will magically protect a company from federal prosecution for failure to remit federal income tax because the fed’s beef would be with the Alberta Revenue Agency and the Alberta Public Service Employer. Right, good luck with that. Also, remember the last time your employer under-collected federal taxes. You got hit with a bigger tax bill than you expected and you still had to pay.
- Opt out of federal transfer and other programs (like $10/day daycare) that influence areas of provincial jurisdiction. Demand “no strings attached” transfers or tax points. Hands up everyone who trusts the UCP to do this right.
- Enact the Alberta Pension Plan and Alberta Unemployment Insurance because Alberta’s younger population has contributed more to the federal equivalents of these programs than it’s gotten back. Yep, it’s the I-don’t-have-kids-why-should-I have-to-pay-school-taxes argument.
- Enact the Alberta Judicial Independence Act. The current judges and justices can keep their jobs but all future appointees to provincial court, Kings Bench and the Court of Appeal will be appointed by the Alberta government. This presupposes that all future judges will cast aside their legal training (and the common law) and issue decisions in favour of government policies. NOTE: When a government controls the courts, it’s tyranny.
- Be independent in international relations and trade and have the power to ignore international agreements signed by the feds, if Alberta thinks they harm its interests. I see, Canada can come to the international bargaining table and enter into agreements that binds all of Canada except Alberta. Yeah, that’s going to go over well.
If the Feds don’t cave
The FAS is clear. If Canada rejects Alberta’s terms, we walk.
The FAS will set up a panel for secession. The panel will present proposals on an Alberta Constitution, judicial/legal system (which will retain the rule of law—hah!), monetary policy/currency, social programing, border protection, and taxation. Albertans will have a “full year” to debate these proposals and then we’ll vote in a referendum: in or out.
If 60% vote to leave. We’re out.
We’ll become the Republic of Western Canada. According to the authors of the FAS, we can continue to call ourselves Canadians—Western Canadians if we wish, because Central and Easter Canadians don’t have exclusivity rights of Canada’s history, culture or name.
Let’s make this interesting
Danielle Smith is confident the ASA will be drafted through the lens of constitutional law and protect us from federal interference with no downside. The authors of the Free Alberta Strategy assure us Alberta will come out ahead if it adopts their proposals.
If they’re so convinced of the merits of their plan, they can put their money where their mouths are.
They can give Albertans their personal guarantee—a legally binding personal guarantee, not some political puffery—that protects us from economic harm.
Because we’re the ones who are at risk here.
*If none of this makes sense, it’s not you, it’s them.