“…the folks who literally spent seven days telling us that what was written in their bill was not written in their bill [will] determine what is…unconstitutional on the part of the federal government…” Rachel Notley, Hansard, Dec 7, p 235
What happened over the last 7 days in Alberta politics simply takes your breath away.
It started with Danielle Smith and her caucus demonstrating an astonishing lack of understanding of the sweeping powers granted by Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, and ended with the Free Alberta Strategy folks taking credit for both the Act and Smith’s entire agenda.
If that doesn’t give you nightmares, nothing will.
Let’s start with the debate.
When the UCP government finally realized that Bill 1 granted cabinet far greater powers than Smith said it did, they amended it. After that everything went downhill.
As Rachel Notley pointed out, the rest of the Bill still contains unconstitutional elements, lacks clarity as to the government’s power to direct those with whom it had a fiscal relationship (including some in the private sector) to disobey federal law, and demonstrates utter disregard of reconciliation and treaty rights as the government failed to consult with the treaty chiefs prior to passing the legislation.
As a result of this gross incompetence, the Bill will damage Alberta’s reputation as a good place to invest, and, more importantly, has diverted the government from addressing the worst flu, COVID, RSV epidemic to hit our children in decades. Smith is unprepared to recommend children get the flu vaccine but she’s all over the radio waves saying the Sovereignty Act would have stopped the federal government’s ban of plastic straws. (Aside: The ban goes into effect in Dec 2022, but businesses have until Dec 2023 to get rid of their plastic straw stock. If Smith feels strongly about this issue—pity the children who need 4 paper straws to suck up a root beer float—she should deploy the Act.)
Smith et al responded to the Opposition’s criticism with the usual word salad: carbon tax, coal phase-out, emissions cap, Northern Gateway, Energy East, Bill C 49 (tanker ban), Bill C 69 (no more pipelines), 2035 emissions targets, etc. These are talking points from Smith’s leadership campaign. They don’t address the flaws in Bill 1 nor explain how Bill 1 will remedy the horrors Bill 1 is supposed to remedy.
Then it got really interesting
It was past midnight when NDP MLA Shannon Phillips reminded the Assembly that Bill 1 was “essentially indistinguishable” from what was contained in the Free Alberta Strategy (FAS) document. And that one of the architects of the FAS document, Barry Cooper said Bill 1 was intended to be unconstitutional and to give the Legislature the powers of the courts to determine whether a federal statute is unconstitutional.
Earlier Phillips said the attack on the judiciary was an attack on civil society. By attacking the rule of law, our collective knowledge, liberal democratic institutions, and ultimately trust, Bill 1 wasn’t setting up a war with Ottawa. It was setting up a war with ourselves.
This is dramatic language, but read the FAS document, you’ll see Phillips is correct.
During the course of the debate Smith made a number of questionable (that’s being charitable) statements.
She said, “The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act has nothing to do with leaving the country.”
Barry Cooper, together with Rob Anderson, Smith’s top advisor, and Derek From drafted the FAS document. Cooper made it crystal clear that if Ottawa fails to yield to Alberta’s demands, the province will separate from the country. As Cooper put it: “I want the Constitution to be changed, or we’ll have another referendum.” He was referring to the Quebec independence referendums, folks.
Smith could have disavowed Cooper’s comments. She didn’t. Remember that in May 2023.
Who drafted this mess?
Smith said, “It was our Justice minister who wrote this legislation—it wasn’t some outside party.”
In the most recent Free Alberta Strategy Bulletin dated Dec 9, 2022, the Free Alberta Strategy team said they wrote the Alberta Sovereignty Act last year. They boasted “It’s not often you get to take on the federal government, change the law, and set a bold new course for an entire province—all in one year!”
As far as the FAS folks are concerned, they’re running the show.
The debate got weirder as the night dragged on. Smith declared “It’s not like Ottawa is a national government.”
Political scientist Duane Brat says, “Yes it is. You might not like it, but a government made up of elected representatives from across Canada is a national government.”
Smith said, “The way our country works is that we are a federation of sovereign, independent jurisdictions. They [the federal government] are one of those signatories to the Constitution and the rest of us, as signatories to the Constitution, have a right to exercise our sovereign powers in our own areas of jurisdiction.”
Bratt replied, “No. Wrong again. Smith is confusing Canada with the EU. Canada has shared sovereignty between two orders of government.”
The Alberta government is being led by a premier who has no idea how provincial or federal governments work. She’s supported by spineless ministers who swore they did not support Bill 1, then folded like a cheap tent when Smith made them cabinet ministers.
The UCP thought it was electing a leader. Instead it got a puppet beholden to the whims of a fringe group who’s prepared to separate from Canada if it doesn’t get its way.
Remember that in May 2023.
Just when one thinks it can’t get any worse….the UCP mange to outdo themselves
Beware the dodo Danielle. Like the dodo, she hopefully will be extinct in May.
Diane and Sharon, speaking of dodo moves, have your seen the video clip posted on Twitter by Advanced Education minister Demetrios Nicolaides where he makes the case Alberta has had to fight against Ottawa since day 1. It starts with a clip of Pierre Elliot Trudeau saying “just watch me” (which PET said with respect to the FLQ crisis, not Alberta’s position on control of its resources) and goes downhill from there.
People who have some understanding of the various Agreements signed between Alberta and the feds tried to set the record straight but they’re not being heard.
What I find most astonishing is for Smith to be taking such a wrecking ball approach in the Province after only obtaining votes in the 50-ish percentile both for Premier (after several rounds) and in her riding’s byelection (of which had only 37% of voter turn-out) and ultimately less than 1% of the province’s electorate? Such a mandate is clearly absent.
Tim, no kidding! And with every passing day and every passing comment Smith’s so-called mandate weakens.
Do you think the election will be delayed? I’m wondering how much I should mentally prepare for such a scenario.
The vacant seats in Calgary (Doug Schweitzer and Jason Kenney) will be an interesting wrinkle.
Julia: I’ve heard that the provincial election could be delayed until April of 2024. This certainly wouldn’t be good.
Section 50 of the Constitution Act, 1867, provides that the upper limit of the duration of the House of Commons is five (5) years. Section 85 sets the term limit of the legislatures of Ontario & Quebec at four (4) years. Section 4 of the 1982 Charter extends the five-year limit to all the legislatures of the provinces, and is not subject to being overridden by Section 33 (the notwithstanding clause).
So, while the fixed election date is merely a law passed by the legislature that can be amended or repealed, the upper limit on the life of the assembly.
Thanks for this clarification Jerrymacgp. Much appreciated.
Barry Cooper is the premier of Alberta now. Watch the puppeteer pull the strings of the UCP marionettes. Dance, puppets, dance!
MM I’m trying to understand what’s going on with these guys. After Morton et al wrote the Firewall Letter, their man Harper was elected. He was in office from 2006 to 2015. Yet despite being a good old Alberta boy he failed to repair the “damage” Ottawa did to Alberta since 1905.
Cooper says Harper’s attempts to help the west were thwarted by the Supreme Court, despite the fact that even today the majority of that court are Harper appointees. (Perhaps Cooper doesn’t understand that our courts are not as partisan as those in the US).
Then Cooper says, if Alberta doesn’t get what it wants (please tell me it’s not plastic straws) it will have no choice but to leave…and be worse off than it was before.
Does any of this make any sense to anyone but the fringe right?
I would argue that Alberta got a very personable woman who knows very little of what she speaks. Danielle Smith often displayed her ignorance of the subject matter she addressed as leader of the Wildrose Party, as a talk show host, as a school board trustee and as a newspaper editor. Other than in her role as a School Board Trustee she was never called out on it.
It has always confounded me how people like her are able to wield the power she apparently does as you note her spineless cabinet Ministers bowing down to her wacky wishes now that she has won the leadership.
Oh, and someone really needs to point out to her that scraping by in a safe seat in a by-election with 62% is not the same thing as a 62% mandate.
Please Madame Premier, learn the bare minimums of the government that you purport to lead. And yes, the Federal Government is the government of all of Canada and the provincial governments are not equal to the feds. It doesn’t matter how many times you smile and click your heels.
Linda, I think it was Robert Heinlein who asked, “Why is it that people who know the least, know it the loudest?” Smith is a textbook example.
As for learning the bare minimum about governing—hey, that’d take all the fun out of it. (Sarcasm, for the UCP trolls who haven’t figured that out already).
Mike, I haven’t read Heinlein for some time but his acronym TANSTAAFL from ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’ has stuck with me for many years. Voters in Alberta would do well to remember in these days of weird vote-buying attempts by this crackhead government of ours, the one that chooses to ignore the children who are sick and suffering and overwhelming the capacity of the Children’s Hospital, preferring instead to pick fights with the federal government over plastic drinking straws (or something something something else FREEDOM!) that There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Mike and Guy. Heinlein’s TANSTAAFL is perfect. Thanks.
Linda, I agree. Smith is very personable. She interviewed me a couple of times when she was with Corus and actually read the blogs and asked intelligent questions. But something slipped since then.
Now we’re in a constant state of red alert trying to keep up with all the garbage she’s spewing. For example, if she actually read Bill 1 she would have realized it could not have been used to ‘shield’ Albertans from paper straws. Lisa Young did an excellent piece on this and concludes the only way Smith would have had even a sliver of a chance to impact the plastic straw ban would have been to set up an Alberta crown corporation to manufacture plastic straws here in Alberta.
Every time someone defends Bill 1 they should be challenged to provide a real life example. All they’ve got is memes. It’s time to get real.
Even without all of these fundamental defects, and fraud, and duplicitous misrepresentation associated with Bill 1, the sheer narcissistic arrogance and hubris of a barely-elected premier, with no mandate or social contract, in the dying months of failed governance, malfeasant misappropriation and mismanagement, and the worst term in the history of Alberta, on the eve of their ejection from government, is shocking, stunning, but not unbelievable.
As if Kamikaze Kennochio, pathological mistruther, and the gaggle of the most regressive reactionary dregs of the Conservative, Refoooorm, Alliance, Wildrose Potties scraped together into an inbred clique of interest-conflicted actively attacking ThePublic was not bad enough, we need to add flagrantly batshit-crazy unconstitutional electioneering tactics to the pile ?
Kurt, 100% agree. One of the saddest things about this debacle is how quickly the UCP leadership candidates Jean, Sawhney and Toews went from Bill 1 being a “fairy tale” that would kill the economy to, well, it’s OK now…yeah, now that Smith offered them cabinet posts.
I wonder if Smith noticed that their support wasn’t rock solid. Not one of them were in the House for the final reading of the Bill. Sure, it happened at 1 a.m. but Danielle Smith was there with Shandro, Madu and others at her side. But Jean, Sawhney and Toews, the late converts who finally saw the light were nowhere to be found. Funny, that.
(I always think it is asinine to restart the Bill counter every year or whatever it is and generate a plethora of unrelated Bill X which must be filtered by year, which of course is usually not specified – merely loosely implied)
Kurt you made me smile. I find this a real headache, especially when a Bill has an innocuous name that’s hard to remember. Good luck trying to find it.
Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. There were several UCP MLAs who didn’t show up at this debate/vote, including Brian Jean. That is quite telling. Brian Jean is a former CPC MP.
Barry Cooper and Danielle Smith mislead people. The UCP are the worst provincial government we have had, and they even make Ralph Klein look good, even though Ralph Klein was really bad. Since I can only post one link at a time, I’ll have to do it that way. Here’s an article about this.
Thanks Dwayne, what’s interesting about the article in the Lethbridge News is Kenney is railing against the Bill when he himself planted the seed which created it. All his “Fair Deal Panel” stuff and lies and misrepresentations about Alberta paying $600 billion more in equalization payments than it gets back (equalization payments come out of general revenue, not an mysterious Alberta government bank account). Everything Kenney did was aimed at fanning the flames of Alberta grievance. Then after he worked people up to fever pitch he couldn’t deliver. His supporters turned on him and elected a new leader who’s even more extreme.
Regardless of what Kenney may have achieved in his long political career, he will always be remembered as the failure who was turfed by the party he created.
Maybe someone should tell Jason to “Look in the mirror.”
Susan: Here’s some other misleading information about this. It also contains other errors in the article. What do you expect from Postmedia?
Susan: This is another recent article in The National Post. It’s very inaccurate. What has happened in Alberta, with the Conservative governments, with the exception of Peter Lougheed’s, was way worse. They have done a plethora of different scandals, several of which are even greater than $32 billion, and all of them combined exceed $32 billion, by far. The UCP are included in that. I’ll try and give two links to show what happened. I hope it works.
Dwayne, thanks for the links to the articles.
With respect to the complaint about the missing $32 B in covid payouts, yes that sounds like a lot, but comparing that to what it would cost to build a railroad is silly. Instead the article should tell us what percentage this amount is of the total amount paid out in covid benefits. The best number I could find was $400 billion so this is less than 10% wastage.
Compare that to what the UCP did in Alberta. The Auditor General says it’s likely that 52% of the businesses that received covid benefits from the UCP government weren’t eligible for it.
52% compared to 10%, who’s doing a better job?
Brian Jean said, never mind we had to release these funds right away. Indeed we did. That’s why some of the funds/benefits released by Trudeau were wasted and why some of the funds released by Kenney were wasted.
Except Kenney was more wasteful than Trudeau.
Like you I find the NP article to be inflammatory and misleading.
Susan: Here’s another misleading article from The National Post. The Conservative governments in Alberta, with the exception of Peter Lougheed’s government, did a plethora of scandals, from over the years, with several of them going beyond $32 billion, and all of them far exceeding that amount, in their cost.
Susan: I tried posting two articles in a comment, to see what would happen, but my comment vanished. Here’s one example of something that is much greater than $32 billion. There is the long-standing misconception that Alberta sent money to other provinces, such as to Quebec, or it sent the money to Ottawa.
Hi Dwayne. I’ve posted a couple of comments with two or three hyperlinks. They usually go through–eventually. It seems WordPress takes longer to confirm hyperlinks, is all. Whether it’s automatic or a real person taking time to click on each link, I can’t say.
Dwayne, I don’t know if you heard Barry Cooper interviewed on CBC but among the ridiculous things he said he dismissed Peter Lougheed’s hard work in getting section 92A into the Constitution.
Cooper said “Pierre Trudeau buffaloed some of the leaders in the provinces, including Saint Peter,” and by “turning all this stuff over to the Supreme Court of Canada for final interpretation, you’d get a legalisation of politics.”
It’s the frigging Constitution! If there are disagreements as to its interpretation it goes to the highest court in the land. But Cooper said that’s not how a federation works, a federation is “a political deal that’s negotiated virtually every day.”
Right, how’s that for creating the investor certainty.
The man’s arrogance is beyond shocking.
Barry Cooper seems to thinks he’s Alberta fringe’s Steve Bannon…and look where Bannon is.
Decades of government by cons made me somewhat embarrassed to be a resident of this province. Now I’m downright ashamed! But there’s still a lot of good to be found in this province and most of its people. I’m determined to work as hard as I can to defeat the united crazies party as soon as possible.
Reynold: I’m with you. I’d hate to leave here without first doing everything possible to make it a better place. Thank you for your comment!
Thank you Susan for your blogs – they keep us up to date on the newest tragic ideas and mistakes of this UCP government. I am so angry but can’t even get a peep from my UCP MLA Whitney Issak
keleemaui: you’re welcome! Just keep pestering your MLA. She may ignore you but she’s keeping track of how many of her constituents are mad at her. Eventually the disgruntled ones will outnumber the happy ones and she’ll think twice about supporting Smith’s next hare-brained scheme.
Thanks so much, Susan for your response – you are right – my MLA can’t ignore me for ever!
Susan: Here’s some more music, I’ll share. This is from a former member of Procol Harum, Robin Trower. He is doing O Little Town Of Bethlehem.
Susan: Here is my second song pick. It is Homburg, from Procol Harum, and was released in the autumn of 1967. This does feature Robin Trower on guitar and B.J. Wilson on drums. They weren’t on A Whiter Shade Of Pale. We lost Gary Brooker, earlier this year, at age 76. This is in my music collection. When I saw Procol Harum live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, in 1992, and in 2010, they did this song. I also met the various band members, including Gary Brooker.
Dwayne, thank you for the music picks. I’m beginning to realize you are a super-fan of this era. 🙂
Susan: Here is my final song pick. This is Bob Dylan doing his composition, All Along The Watchtower. It is from his album John Wesley Harding, released in December of 1967. This is very fitting. It is in my music collection. I did see Bob Dylan live in 1990.
I APPLAUD Ms. Danielle Smith for her laughable efforts at being a political leader, and thereby hurrying the demise of the deplorable, dangerous UCP “party”.
The problem is these incompetents could win the election in 2023. They are buying our votes as we speak and write. All of a sudden there is money to give away to the voters under the guise it is for the little guy and children etc. When re-elected there will be money for charter schools, not so much for public schools, the fight with care workers will resume and maybe our resource sector will get more tax cuts.
Recent Leger polls show things don’t look good for Dodo Danielle and the unhinged clown party, even in Calgary…We can only hope that we educate enough people and get out there to support the NDP.
rockymountain: I understand where you’re coming from. I continue to see people commenting on Twitter about UCP insiders who are growing increasingly uncomfortable with Danielle Smith.
She kicked over a hornets nest when she went ahead with Bill 1 without consulting the treaty chiefs. They must have been ready to march out the door when she compared Ottawa’s treatment of Alberta with how the federal government treated Canada’s aboriginal people. Here’s what she said in the Legislature:
“The way I described it to the Chiefs that I’ve spoken with is that they had fought a battle over the last number of years to get sovereignty respected and to extract themselves from the paternalistic Indian Act, we get treated the exact same way from Ottawa.”
Let’s see, did the feds put tear Alberta children out of the arms of their parents and put them into residential schools?
Well, there we have it – Smith’s “Apres Moi, pour la deluge” bill has passed.
Slow clap for Barry Cooper, Preston Manning, Ted Morton and the other political vandals of the Reeeeform/Alliance/CRAP sewage-pond “Calgary School” who after pissing into the wind for years, finally got wet. They have never understood nor cared how Canada works either, so that cluelessness informs why Duuuuhhhdanielle and the rest of her political remedials stutter around the reality of jurisdictional political institutions like winding-down toy store robots.
My money is still on a palace revolt near the eve of the election when panicking party donors, aghast at the dismal polling numbers, engineer dumping the talk-show host and in their hubris, prop up what they will decry to all “A savior – a “Man”. The “Man” everyone! Will it be a war horse? Or a tyro? Who cares. Do we dare hope this gormless big tent UCP splits and the crazies can go off and be whoop whoop for cocoa puffs with their rump of 4-8 seats? Loved the note of Jean’s absence in the house. That was no mistake – long knives are being sharpened.
One can only hope the Federal Government goes comatose-silent re Alberta for the months leading up to the election – depriving Smith of the separtiste-oxygen she desperately needs to meth up her base. Her pattern of whoopsie-walkbacks will do the rest to convince Alberta she and the UCP are utterly unfit for office.
Lee, thanks for your comment. I want to pick up on your last paragraph. I too hope the Federal Government stays silent about Bill 1. Alberta passed it, now Alberta needs to use it. Only then should the Feds take Alberta to court. They need real facts to put before the judges. I’m convinced the courts will expose Bill 1 as the abhorrent piece of legislation that it is.
It’s going to be hard for Notley to stay out of the fray. Especially since Smith is bringing forward motions like the one telling the feds not to invoke dissallowance to kill Bill 1. The feds haven’t used disallowance since the 1940s and some legal scholars doubt whether it could be invoked at all.
Regardless of what Rob Anderson, Barry Cooper and Derek From thought Bill 1 was going to be, it’s clearly the opening salvo in the UCP’s re-election campaign which is nothing more than an amped up version of Ottawa is out to get us, Danielle will save us.
I’m sure Notley’s election strategists are weighing a number of scenarios in response. They could: (1) ignore Bill 1 and focus on the dismal state of healthcare, etc, (2) reshape Bill 1 as a job-killing bill, or (3) reshape Bill 1 as a separatist bill and ask Albertans whether they really want to separate. Option (3) is pretty inflammatory, but sometimes I’m ready to go there.
I am not so sanguine about her self destruction. We only have to look at what is happening around us, the best example being Brexit…look at the disarray there and the impoverishment of the country….the mess that the NHS is in…it was a movement that was manipulated, filled with lies and distortions but because it appealed to base emotions and was based on anti-immigrant prejudice that had been exploited and whipped up for decades it worked! It wouldn’t perhaps work now perhaps but it is too late.What a surprise that the UK has now sidelined itself and nobody is rushing around to save it. Do we learn these lessons?
It is a joke that tiny Alberta , with a boom and bust economy and the end of the dominance of fossil fuels on the horizon, can fend for itself …when it has been supported, as have all provinces by federal funding in so many areas..including 21 billion for a pipeline that most Canadians did not approve of.
I am heartened by all the voices that are speaking out. But also struck
by the statement by the most recent Nobel Peace Price recipient on Colbert last night. We already know how lies and distortions have ruled Alberta since Covid started. But we are not alone in facing these anti-democratic movements that are based on ignorance and chaos. Please spend a minute listening to this: https://twitter.com/colbertlateshow/status/1597825250028306433
Thank you for the excellent link. She explains so clearly what we are witnessing right now. Society, truth and trust are being dismantled in front of our eyes.
The gullible are being manipulated to do all the heavy lifting in this game. It’s happening under the guise of anti-vaxx, anti-mask, “freedom” movements. “Freedom” is used to stamp out freedom. Who is funding all this? The people who will hold power and profit from it and us when it’s too late to reverse course. The pandemic certainly sped things along rather well for these people. Society is disintegrating as the train used in this terminal end game of democracy is about to crash into a wall. Their dupes won’t know what hit them. The rest of us seem impotent to stop it. Children dying of preventable diseases? Completely acceptable and normal to these rules. Small price to pay for “freedom”. If we think it’s a problem, the problem is us. Square pegs must be pounded down. The train wreck must stay on schedule.
JCurrie, MM, and Carlos. Agreed. When facts become lies and lies become facts we’re screwed. Today someone told me that someone, let’s call them X said Notley killed babies. When pressed as to why X believed this, the answer was Notley refused to let German firefighters fight the Fort Mac fire and babies died. Therefore Notley killed babies.
So let’s think about this a moment.
Did babies die in the Fort Mac fire? No, two adults were killed in a vehicle accident in the evacuation, but no babies.
If no babies died it doesn’t matter whether Notley didn’t take up the offer of assistance from German firefighters.
Incidentally while I found an article saying Trudeau turned down offers of assistance from the international community, I could find nothing indicating Notley had turned down an offer of assistance from the Germans.
Seems to me Q-Anon has infected Albertans’ brains.
Thank you indeed for this link. I had heard her before but I cannot remember where. She has such a clear vision of what is happening along with many millions of us but society has shifted and so far I have not seen a great response from the progressives.
The reasons are clear to me. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there and without a decent response to this we could easily fall into great turmoil. I hear a lot of reaction but not a lot of action. It is hard to organize people are more divided than ever.
Thanks Susan, great summary. heh, Robby and Barry think they’re ‘running the show’, when really they’re just running the show into the ground. And that’s not to mention that apparently their intent and interpretation of the bill is flat-out seditious? Well then.
It’s a cliché, but they define the folk that would bite off their own nose(s) to spite their face.
Time to think about moving back home?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Where’s your home?
Not a bad idea considering this will not be resolved in May in my opinion
“He’s just looking for something that doesn’t exist anymore.” — Whale Rider
Wherever that is, I am seeking a place that used to exist, but doesn’t now. Drop us a line.
Duncan, Roy and I are seriously discussing the possibility of returning home (which in our case would be the west coast) if Albertans return Smith and the UCP for another term. If that happens it will be clear that it’s not Smith and the UCP who are the problem, but the people of Alberta who either voted for this wrecking ball of a party or stayed at home because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the only alternative, namely the NDP. Either scenario speaks volumes about the people in this province.
I’m afraid that the people of Alberta are part of the problem. So where does someone return to if their family has been here more than 110 years? That is my conundrum.
“He’s just looking for something that doesn’t exist anymore.” — Whale Rider
Wherever that is, I am seeking a place that used to exist, but doesn’t now. Drop us a line.
Susan, kudos for being willing to wade into these repellent waters. Was reading the Garth Turner blog earlier today – one commenter mentioned Ms. Smith, except she was called ‘Danielle Sith’ – LOL, we ended up with the female version of Darth Vader. More seriously regarding this idiotic Bill #1 is that Smith & crew specified they would not be asking the courts to rule on the legality of said Bill. Presumably because they know the courts would rule against it. As for the claims Smith & crew ‘didn’t know’ the Bill would provide such sweeping powers – methinks the lady protests too much. One could hope the lieutenant governor would step in & declare this provincial government null & void, but given the UCP has declared the only law they recognize is their version of it not sure what good it would do.
Linda, like you I don’t believe for an instant Smith “didn’t know” what Bill 1 meant; that excuse sounds too much like “Aw gee, Yer Honnerr, I didn’t know the gun was loaded!”. Obviously, the UCP caucus knew. That’s why they stripped out the part that would have made them even more irrelevant than usual.
We could have saved some time if Smith had taken Notley’s dare to submit Bill 1 for review by a court. That may happen anyway, since it’s one of the Lt. Governor’s options. Doing so would probably keep the bill in limbo until after the May election. We may have to wait until the Smith and the Free Alberta Fantasists try to actually use their self-granted extraordinary powers. Then the Sovereignty Act will be challenged in court and struck down.
We’re fortunate that Canada’s court system is much less politicized than the Americans’ version. I don’t know what would happen if Smith et al were told to clear out their offices, ‘cause there’s gonna be an election whether they want it or not. I think Lt. Gov. Lakhani could do that, but it’s never happened yet. Alberta came close in the ‘30s, but Bible Bill Aberhart backed down just enough to avoid it (lots of details at the Canadian Encyclopedia online). Could Smith et al be arrested for trespassing if they refuse to vacate the offices assigned to the ruling party? Would they be brave or crazy enough to say “Make me leave”?
(PS: While I find “Danielle Sith” to be mildly amusing, it’s giving Smith either too much credit or too little. She doesn’t rise to the level of pure, conscious evil. I think instead she’s full of herself, not as smart as she believes, much too ignorant for her good or ours, and doesn’t know or doesn’t care when it’s time to stop talking.)
Mike, you are correct in that Lt. Gov. Lakhani could dismiss Smith’s government – but the bar to do so is really high, as it should be.
Closest modern example almost played out in BC, when Premier Van Der Zalm was found in conflict of interest. Lt. Gov. Lam, in an interview after the furor died down, revealed that he knew that he had the authority to dismiss Van Der Zalm (important distinction – not his government, just Van Der Zalm as Premier). The point was moot because Van Der Zalm resigned voluntarily (well, more of a “voluntold” from his caucus).
In case of the UCP & Smith, because the clown party trained seals passed Bill 1 (less the abstentions), Lt. Gov. Lakhani may have enough cause. It would be a constitutional first, possibly in the entire Commonwealth.
I once took a poli sci course in which I had to review the letters patent – the written orders from the monarch (from George VI) that Lt.Governors & Governor Generals operate under. Lt. Governors and Governor Generals are not just required to remove from office any minister who breaks the law – they are obligated to.
Practically, if Smith & the UCP were told to take a hike and refused, I suspect the federal government would, as a first step, stop all financial transfers to the Alberta government. After that, things like shutting down international airports & border crossings comes to mind. Second thing to note is the RCMP are a federal police agency. They are just contracted to provincial governments. Federal government orders take precedence.
What I wondering lately is, what if Smith doesn’t send Bill 1 to the Lt. Gov.?
I recall Kenney held off sending his recall act to the Lt.Gov. for some time after it was passed in the legislature.
If Smith doesn’t send bill 1, then the Lt. Gov. has no cause to dismiss her, or refuse assent, or refer to supreme court, etc. Smith gets to wave Bill 1 to her base and not face any real consequences (at least up to the election).
What would happen to Bill 1 if it is not given assent before an election? Does it die? Go into hibernation?
Hi Gerald. I’m not surprised the situation here in Oilberduh is unprecedented; most governing parties have leaders who are smart enough not to pass legislation that’s illegal on its face. (Alberta’s had two such guv’mints; it must be something in the water, pollution from oil and gas wasn’t a thing in the ‘30s.) The only other time that I know about is the federal Conservatives under Stephen Harper. They had several bills smacked down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. (But had they been passed by Parliament and the Senate? I don’t remember.) Harper, in a severe snit, attacked the Supreme Court generally and Justice Beverly McLachlin particularly, for the heinous crime of doing their job. If Lt. Gov. Lakhani does indeed refuse to rubber-stamp Bill 1, expect a burst of incoherent outrage from Queen-wannabe Dannie.
If Smith doesn’t submit the bill for royal assent, I really don’t know what would happen. Presumably—since it’s been passed by the Legislature—it simply waits for the next government to submit…or repeal it. That could be Item #1 on Rachel Notley’s Summer of Repeal.
Assuming royal assent is granted (a doubtful point), its legality won’t necessarily be tested until Smith tries to use it. Maybe the Sovereignty Act is so blatantly bad that the Supreme Court would agree to review it. They might not, though. The Supreme Court refused to hear a complaint about Jason Kenney’s Protection of Public Infrastructure (from tree-hugging eco-freak protestors) Act, because nobody had yet been arrested under the act; the complaint was theoretical.
(Speaking of theory: were George VI’s letters patent adopted in whole under the Constitution Act of 1982? If not, there may have been some changes to the powers of the Governor General and Lieutenants Governor. Either way, the “nuclear option” available to the GG and LGs should be the absolute last resort.)
If you have a taste for low comedy, imagine this. Smith tries to interfere in some federal law because “Albertans are being hurt” (probably their feelings). Lt. Gov. Lakhani declares the UCP government null and void for breaking the Constitution. Smith refuses to leave. Now imagine an RCMP constable presenting Smith with a cease-and-desist order for trespassing on Government property—and then frog-marching her out the Legislature front door. Pandemonium! It’d be hilarious, until the Free Alberta Fantasists got their protests started. Boy, they’d make the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa look like a block party. Oh wait, it did….
Linda and Mike, I agree 100% that Danielle Smith knew exactly what the Henry VIII clauses said. The Justice department put Bill 1 together. They gave the press a technical briefing and confirmed to the press that this was the effect of this legislation. Smith held a press conference and the press (now fully briefed) asked Smith and Shandro to confirm what they’d heard in the technical briefing. Smith ducked the question saying Shandro would answer it. Shandro, after much humming and hawing, confirmed this to be the case.
They were caught and in less than a week had to back down.
I also agree with Mike’s PS in which he sets out his opinion of Smith.
Canadian Albertans say,
GoinFawr: Good song pick!
This is the song that I can’t get out of my head these days. Maybe if I share it here it will go away.
Guy: Another great song. I did share this exact song on this blog, recently.
It really takes my breath away when Smith says thinks, like “Its not like Ottawa is a national government”, but I suppose that sort of denialism is a core part of Smiths character. She oftne glibly dismisses or wishes away whatever is inconvenient for her.
I get there are people in Alberta who don’t like the current government in Ottawa and I even understand some of their reasons. However, Ottawa does exist and pretending it does not is not going to help solve any problems.
I am surprised there is not more outrage about such a patently false statement, but perhaps we have become used to our politicians telling us lies or maybe denialism is somewhat in fashion in Alberta these days.
However, when you have a problem with someone else, you can not just wish them away. You have to deal with them and work it out. Passing laws that ignore other level of governments and the constitution is not going to work anymore than holding a unilateral referendum on equalization worked.
All we will end up with is a province ignoring the federal government and the rest of Canada ignoring the foolishness coming out of that province. So this will accomplish nothing, except possibly create more frustration and anger, which might provide an opportunity for certain politicians to get elected or reelected.
Dave, I suppose at the end of the day it boils down to power. Since the UCP (and the federal conservatives) can’t come up with policies that will get them elected, they’ll continue to fan the flames of victimhood. Someone is always the bad guy, and the UCP/CPC are the good guys who’ll save us from the bad guys. Quite juvenile, but the brain turns off when the emotions are engaged. It was bad before the rise of social media, it’s so much worse now.
All we can do is push back. Like I said above it helps to be able to whip out your phone and check the premise of someone’s argument (you say babies died in the Fort Mac fires, let’s check that).
Barry Cooper is the veteran in this cabal. He has been a far-right Alberta separatist for decades. He’s also virulently anti-Quebec (his short books with David Bercuson are proof of that), and feverishly opposed to any politics/legislation/policy that is to the left of Augusto Pinochet.
One of the original members of the so-called “Calgary School,” Cooper, a political theorist by trade, has peddled the same authoritarian-populist BS since at least the founding of the Reform Party in the late 1980s. He and his “School” colleagues at the U of C, viz., Tom Flanagan, Ted Morton, Rainer Knopff, and others, have exerted, as far as career academics are concerned, considerable influence over a succession of right-wing governments in Alberta. That influence was also seen at the nation level vis-à-vis the aforementioned Reform Party, and more recently, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
Harper, Jason Kenney, Rob Anders, Ezra Levant, and yes, Danielle Smith, have all been students influenced – or taught directly – by these men.
One of the first of many questionable axioms taught to students by the School is that federal equalization payments are actually nothing more than the feds stealing money directly from each and every Albertan and giving it all to Quebec. (I’m exaggerating, but not by much.)
The second axiom is that Canadian federalism – as per their interpretation of the Constitution Act, 1867 – asserts the unvarnished sovereignty of all provinces (especially Alberta), and that Parliament in Ottawa is illegitimate, because, apparently, it serves only, to use Harold Innis’ famous term, “Laurentian Elites”: them damn Frenchies and snooty Ontarians.
Cooper also helped found, under a cloud of controversy, the anti-climate science, pro-oil shill group, “Friends of Science.” His latest co-authored publication was a MAGAt-inspired critique of health policies used to fight the Covid 19 pandemic.
He is, it seems, rather like Stephen Bannon with a doctorate. And, of course, he’s Danielle Smith’s go-to book-learnin’ guy. Obviously, given her performance as premier thus far, it’s all working out so well for her, isn’t it?
“It’s tough to be a pure libertarian, because reality has a way of messing with that beautiful theory.” Ezra Levant
Awwwws, maybe Ezzy and the gang should abandon their delusion and join the rest of us in it then, reality I mean.
GoinFawr: I don’t want Erza and the gang my reality, can’t we just stash them in the attic and let them collect dust bunnies or something.
Bruce: your comments about Barry Cooper are bang on. Earlier I mentioned the interview Cooper gave to the CBC. In it he said some incredible things that confirm what you just said.
In addition to trashing “Saint Peter” (hey, Barry, your envy is showing) Cooper declared Alberta would be better off going it alone because “We also wouldn’t have to pay Quebec all the transfer payments. And if you don’t think that is something that appeals to Albertans, you know, you underestimate the redneck quality of…Quebec sentiment in the province. And it’s not anti French, it’s anti Quebec. One province has taken a huge amount of money from Alberta. And guess what? They’ve never said thank you.”
He also made the claim that we’d get pipelines to the coast. Why he believes this to be true is beyond me. It’s not as if Alberta the country can just barge through BC, although some people argue that the UN would force BC to let us through because…well, I don’t know, just because.
There’s no point in trying to reason with these nuts.
Cooper et al have a fatal case of QDS – “Quebec Derangement Syndrome”. It informs the single-note jeremiad they’ve been choral-howling like mangy mentally ill coyotes out here for the last 30 years. I am sick to death of this “woe is me / poor pitiful me” victim whining from this wee slice of the Alberta RW. Enough of these chodes.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility the Honourable Lieutenant Governor Aheer to refuse assent of this creepy fever-dream of a bill. I encourage everyone to drop her a note asking for this consideration. Letters to the Lieutenant Governor should be addressed to:
Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani, AOE B.Sc., LLD (Hon)
With the salutation, Your Honour.
Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta
3rd Floor, Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
@Mike D in re letters patent
Short answer – yes
Longer answer – http://www.revparl.ca/english/issue.asp?param=74&art=163
Thanks Gerald. Fascinating, if somewhat dry, reading. 99+% of Canadians have no idea how extensive the GG’s powers are.
Definitely. My eyebrows do a serious hike when I read some political talking head’s opinion that the GG and LG are just “ceremonial”.
I think the notion of the “ceremonial” vice-regal representative mainly arises from the fact that neither have really needed to use their reserve powers for several decades (50 – 60 years?).
That fact is testament to our politicians having played by the rules (mostly) and not been utter boneheads; unfortunately, that is what has changed over the past 2 decades (more or less).
I for one am very thankful we still have the GG and LG’s. They are our safeguard against suffering the same kind of flaming portapottie political debacles we see in the US (and worse elsewhere).
Think about it – if the Americans had a GG, the Donald would have been in jail after the first impeachment. Something that “President” Danielle would do well to consider.
Like Lt. Gov. Lakhani said in September, she’s the constitutional fire extinguisher, for use when political parties/leaders are trying to commit democratic arson.
I have to confess that I am not very familiar with the powers of the GG and LGs, but I have always assumed that it is the only power that can stop an idiotic government like our current one in Alberta from causing severe damage to the province and its citizens. We have that situation right now with this ridiculous Sovereignty Act.
I agree with Lt.Gov. Lakhani in saying that she will get a constitutional opinion of this document before making it law. I have heard comments against that decision but I personally would have done the same thing and I do not see why it is a problem for her to make such request.
According to the alberta legislative assembly website, the “Sovereignty” was sent to the Lt. Governor on the afternoon of Dec 15th.
Since by an Alberta Sovereign Decree all Canadian laws are allegedly null and void in that province, and gun laws are federal, does that mean there will be an Uzi under every Alberta border town’s tree?
I bet eligibility for such quasi-legal immunity will hinge on political affiliation, geographical location, or wealth.
While it is sad that we have Premier QAnon the fact is that there are so many people who approve of what she is doing. I have been door knocking for the NDP candidate in my riding and I met a woman who actually liked some of Danielle’s anti-COVID views because of the problems of isolation of seniors which occurred as a result of the lockdowns in March 2020. While I can sympathize with her concerns the person doesn’t realize that if Danielle had been in charge in March 2020 she would have done what Sweden had done which resulted in the deaths of many seniors and the most vulnerable. This, along with the Sovereignty Act, is one of many reasons we can’t get complacent. Do what you can to help whatever candidate can beat the UCP.
It is clear that the proposals for local police force and for an Alberta pension are based on huge expenditures, irrational and ignorant planning and policy making, fantasy future estimates and with poor or no positive returns for Albertans . But does that matter to the UCP and its base? It is so easy to foment anger because most people don’t follow the p9litics of expanding the cabinet to promote grifting or the pretend interest in helping sick kids by announcing a strange and problematic relationship with an iffy Turkish company to provide kid’s Tylenol while ignoring health regulations to protect our safety. I can see that the “selling” of an Alberta pension plan could be sold to young workers who resent providing a portion of their pay cheque for pension benefits and, because they are young, can’t imagine that, one day, that will be grateful for their pension considering that so many are in the gig economy and will not have many other assets.
We know that despite our many assets as a species thinking about and planning for the future is not one of of them and we prefer to live in a fantasy land where “everything will be okay” and we believe what we are told (present company on this blog not included!). I found this paper last night on what Albertans would lose if Alberta left the CPP. Susan, you are a tax lawyer so would appreciate your comments. But it looks like essential reading for those of us who do want to know what the future may bring. Lots of salient comments on the Quebec pension (they were never part of CPP as I understand it but are finding it hard their own pension now harder to sustain without a national basis). Can AB with 4 million people do better? It’s a joke.
But they don’t want a pension to support retired workers…they want it as an investment arm to support their corporate friends aka “building the province” NOT the goal of a pension fund.
It has been increasing clear to me that Alberta, despite the many good people who live here, is a danger not to its own citizens but to Canada itself. Building a policy on resentment and a lack of collaboration, based on not understanding the value and good of the commons for ALL of us, is dangerous and scary. Sorry for the rant!!!
I find this terrifying. Nothing causes more chaos than ignorance from leadership. Danielle Smith is ignorant of critical information that would stabilize our Province. She is dangerous because she is both ignorant of facts, principles and truths about Governance. Even worse she is arrogant and distracted by shiny things popping, up ideas that we cannot afford to have put into practice. Albertans get rid of her and her crazy caucus!