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Alberta Passes Sovereignty Act, With Amendment



(Edmonton) Early Thursday morning, the Alberta legislature passed the controversial sovereignty bill proposed by new premier Danielle Smith.

The elected officials also removed the provision which granted the cabinet of Mme Smith the power to circumvent the legislature and rewrite the laws as he saw fit.

The premier’s United Conservative Caucus used its majority to pass an amendment saying the Alberta legislature always has the final say on legislation. He then proceeded directly to the third and final reading of the bill which was approved around 1 a.m. Thursday.

Speaking about the bill, the Prime Minister said it was time to reset relations with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government.

“It’s not like Ottawa is a national government,” said Danielle Smith. “The way our country works is that we are a federation of sovereign and independent jurisdictions. As signatories to the Constitution, we have the right to exercise our sovereign powers within our own areas of jurisdiction. »

Immediately after the vote, New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Rachel Notley wrote on social media: “If we form government, we will act to repeal this horrible, undemocratic law. »

The next general election is due to take place on May 29.

The NDP called the law a jumble of unconstitutional presumptions that offend the democratic process and stifle business investment. NDP Deputy Leader Sarah Hoffman added that the legislation erodes democracy, harms Alberta’s economy and the province’s national and international reputation.

The bill faced widespread criticism early on for provisions giving Prime Minister Smith and her cabinet sweeping powers to rewrite legislation. Mme Smith initially denied the bill had such authority, but as outrage mounted she announced over the weekend that there would be changes.

Prior to the vote on the amendment, Rachel Notley said that although the bill effectively nullifies Cabinet’s power to rewrite laws, a change narrowing the definition of federal harm was still worded too ambiguously to be effective.

Mme Notley also said glaring flaws remain in the bill as it indicates that the legislature, not the courts, decides what is and is not constitutional. In his view, the bill still grants broad and indefinite power to Cabinet to order municipalities, health regions, schools and municipal police forces to resist the implementation of federal laws.

Earlier Wednesday in Ottawa, First Nations chiefs from Alberta and Saskatchewan called on both provinces to drop their respective provincial rights bills, calling them undemocratic, unconstitutional and a violation of Indigenous rights. .

In the afternoon, Rick Wilson, Alberta’s Indigenous Relations Minister, told reporters that while the bill clarifies that treaty rights are respected, he has heard the concerns of Indigenous leaders and will work to answer it.

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