Brian Jean, former Wildrose Party leader and candidate to lead the United Conservative Party, has a good question for Danielle Smith, former Wildrose Party leader and candidate to lead the United Conservative Party.

Frontrunning UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith (Photo: Facebook/Danielle Smith).

What does your Alberta Sovereignty Act actually say? 

Since Ms. Smith’s so-called Sovereignty Act is the centrepiece of her campaign, Mr. Jean said in a fund-raising email to his supporters, “the members have a right to understand it, before voting begins.”

Of course, if voting UCP members get to read Ms. Smith’s proposed legislation, candidates like Mr. Jean might also have an opportunity to attack it in a way that doesn’t alienate the party’s separatist fringe that right now mostly supports the Smith campaign. 

Making the text of the supposed legislation public would certainly answer the question of whether there even is a draft of the Sovereignty Act, or if it’s just another promise to be dealt with by Ms. Smith after she has won the leadership and figured out how much she can get away with without provoking a UCP Caucus rebellion.

“In my time as a lawyer,” Mr. Jean said in his email, clearly trying to curry a little favour with the loony right, “I have seen many cases of good intentions undermined by badly written laws. I would never tell a client to accept a written deal without knowing the actual written terms.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Some of us might dispute the idea Ms. Smith is acting from good intentions, but there’s nothing wrong with Mr. Jean’s advice about not agreeing to a contract without reading it. 

“I worry that the Sovereignty Act will be meaningless or unconstitutional,” he continued. (Well, it’ll certainly be unconstitutional if it reflects the purpose of the bill, as stated by Ms. Smith.) “But I am prepared to be wrong, if the actual Act shows otherwise.”

“I have not read the text of Danielle’s Sovereignty Act,” he concluded. “And neither have you. No one has. And that’s not right.”

Of course, these are all good tactical reasons for Ms. Smith not to release the draft of the proposed legislation, if in fact one exists. 

She has no desire to spend the rest of the campaign to replace Premier Jason Kenney defending her campaign’s pièce de resistance line by line. Especially since, up to now, she has managed to set the agenda.

Neither would she want to tip off the majority of Albertans, to whom the idea of Parti Quebecois-style sovereignty-association would appear somewhere between absurd and abhorrent, about the details. 

Frontrunning Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre (Photo: Jake Wright, Manning Centre, Creative Commons).

This assumes a draft exists. If it doesn’t, that fact might not be treated gently by the UCP’s republican base, which at least could be counted on to make their way grumpily back to the Wildrose Independence Party or whatever separatist splinter group was promising the most Q-adjacent program at the time.

Perhaps Rob Anderson, the former Wildrose MLA and chair of Ms. Smith’s campaign, University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, and lawyer Derek From, the three brainiacs who cooked up the “Free Alberta Strategy,” have some notes scratched on an envelope they could share with us. 

Their so-called strategy, complete with an unimpressive list of endorsements, includes a call for an Alberta Sovereignty Act to grant the Legislature “absolute discretion to refuse to enforce any piece of federal legislation or judicial decision that intrudes on Alberta’s provincial rights, or that unfairly attack the interests of Alberta’s People.” Needless to say, any such act would be blatantly unconstitutional. 

But the idea has its roots in the sovereignist “Firewall Letter,” the 2001 manifesto signed by half a dozen opponents of the Chrétien Liberal government in Ottawa, including future prime minister Stephen Harper. They sent it off to premier Ralph Klein, who sensibly tossed it in the recycler. 

Mr. Jean’s query for Ms. Smith is not the only worthwhile question about the Sovereignty Act that deserves a timely response. 

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt yesterday tweeted a good one for the frontrunner in the federal Conservative Party’s leadership race. 

Said Dr. Bratt: “You know who hasn’t commented on Smith’s proposed Sovereignty Act? Pierre Poilievre.

“You would think that someone running to be Prime Minister would have a thought or two on a possible Premier promising to nullify federal legislation, regulatory decisions, and court rulings,” he added.

You would, wouldn’t you? I think for similar reasons we can expect Mr. Poilievre to keep his lips zipped on this question.

Now, about that provincial police force …

Meanwhile, other than some election-style promises that new teachers will be hired for the next school year, about all the UCP wants to talk about is its big idea to replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in rural Alberta with its own provincial police force.

This is a scheme almost everyone hates, including most of the governing party’s own supporters. More than 70 rural Alberta politicians have written the government opposing the idea, which is estimated to be vastly more expensive than the province’s current deal with the RCMP – well over $200 million a year in operating costs above the $500 million paid for RCMP services now, plus an estimated $366 million in start-up costs.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

At a news conference on Tuesday, though, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro insisted the government has “a blueprint” for the scheme, which he promised would see more police officers in rural areas than are now stationed at rural RCMP detachments. 

By the sound of the proposal, though, a lot of this would be accomplished by moving regional paper shufflers to rural offices where they would, presumably, still be principally occupied with shuffling police paper. 

Since the RCMP now has trouble finding young police officers willing to work in rural areas, it’s hard to see how this would be any different for an Alberta provincial police force unless the UCP was willing to pay its officers considerably more. 

Given the fact almost all rural municipalities – the farm team for Conservative provincial politicians – are opposed, the UCP government’s determination to stick with this unpopular plan seems almost bizarre. 

However, along with a provincial pension plan, another bad idea championed by the UCP, it was first proposed in the Firewall manifesto and has now resurfaced in the Free Alberta Strategy.

So the need to keep fringe UCP supporters onside until after the leadership vote probably explains a lot.

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26 Comments

  1. The head honcho of the UCP wants to have the R.C.M.P dumped, because they are the ones who are looking into how he became leader of the UCP. He also will have his very own police state, where no one can question him, or the policies of the UCP, without repercussions. The head honcho of the UCP, Danielle Smith, Brian Jean, and Pierre Poliveire, are all pretend conservatives and Reformers, who will destroy all the public services, so they can privatize them, including healthcare, lay off thousands of workers, and jeopardize people’s pensions. They will also waste billions of dollars on pricey shenanigans, have an imbalanced tax regime, which favours the wealthy, continue to get the worst oil royalty rates, degrade the environment further, and leave infrastructure in a very poor shape. Picking fights with the federal government won’t get Alberta further ahead. These pretend conservatives and Reformers are doing the types of things that Peter Lougheed would never do, and people are duped, and fooled by their lies. Where is the sense in that?

  2. I have a gut feeling, that there will be some undesirable outcomes that won’t make the UCP, or the CPC very well favoured. There will be something going on that will spill over onto the federal political arena, and it will be really ugly. In other parts of Canada, they will be paying attention to what is going on here in Alberta. More finger pointing will result, but it won’t be at any party that isn’t conservative.

  3. Well, this Sovereignty Act sort of exists in Smith’s head, but probably no where else in reality. It would be surprising if it did.

    It has become in her mind this wonderful, powerful thing that rhetoricaly can cure cancer and bake bread, which serves her current political purposes just fine – winning the party leadership. Without pesky details, where the devil always seems to lie, she can conveniently keep it from being a political piñata her opponents can use against her, as it is harder to hit something empheral.

    However, its fairly clear whatever she is proposing would be unworkable to everyone except for those who want to believe. So I suspect this largely imaginary plan will be ditched or morph into something more pedestrian if she actually does win. Her supporters may be disappointed, but hey her supporters have learned to live with disappointment from her before.

    Speaking of disappointment, rural and other Albertans have been disappointed by past assurances of funding from the UCP before. So, I would not be surprised if they would be a bit skeptical of this being used as a ploy to get them to support a provincial police force. One bad dip in oil prices and all that supposed funding will disappear faster than you can say grassroots guarantee. So better to stick with what we have than get sucked into this.

  4. Have you noticed how old Ty is telling tall tales, like how all everyone in Alberta has ever talked about over the course of his entire life was how much Alberta needs an APP? Ty has been listening to the voices in his head all this time. He should stop doing that. The voices have terrible ideas.

  5. Danielle Straitjacket, like Skippy Pollivere, likes conjuring up all the angry middle-aged white man tropes that grab the undivided attention of the unhinged.

    Control of your life has been taken away from you by the Elites for the sake of their own power grab. It’s time to take back your lives and make them pay for their crimes…yada, yada, yada…

    This all sounds great as a soundbite in front of an angry mob, but it rarely has any grounding in reality. Worse, if the mob falls for it, they will find that they have fallen for another grift and just voted against their best interests. Pollivere’s endless rants against the unnamed “gatekeepers” and the “elites” are getting really tired. That’s why he was content to pay a fine, rather than make it to the last CPC leadership debate. When asked about policy against these so-called gatekeepers, he doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s the same with Smith: she talks about her secret weapons against Ottawa that will allow Alberta to assert its true power over Canada. Of course, Smith has every intention of keeping her master plan a secret.

    Recently, when I got into it with another idiot over the genius of Danielle Smith, this person was convinced that she won’t reveal her grand plans because “why give away the game to the enemy?” My reply was “what if there is no plan and the whole thing is a macguffin?” He raised his eyebrow, so I had to explain what a macguffin was. He shook his head and replied, “she would never lie to us”. It sounds to me like this guy is the sort of person who never learns — ever.

    When someone approaches and announces that in their briefcase there are the best plans available that will solve every single problem known to everyone, but they will not open the case, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that a ruse is in the works. Since Alberta is famous for falling for scams of one form or another, Smith is playing it very cagey, because she knows Albertans are the stupidest people alive.

    1. Isn’t this how Joseph Smith started?

      “I have the golden plates and I’m the only one who can read them! Follow me and I’ll lead you to the promised land!”

      If we’re lucky she’ll lead her followers to Utah too…

      (And yes, I know how that Smith ended…)

      1. Kevin: Basically, yes, although Smith only led his followers to Nauvoo, Illinois. After Smith was assassinated in Carthage, Illinois, Brigham Young led the Mormons to the Utah Territory, declaring “this is the place” when he spied the site of Salt Lake City. DJC

        1. Christopher: After the first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, Smith said he returned the book of golden plates whence he said he copied the text to the Angel Moroni. The plates weren’t magic, according to Mormon doctrine, but to translate them from “Reformed Egyptian,” Smith said he had to look at them through a transparent “seer stone” in his hat. Not being a Mormon or in possession of a seer stone of my own, I have no idea how this was supposed to work. DJC

  6. The stupidity goes on and on and from what we are seeing it’s mostly easily fooled seniors who are willing to buy into it. Seniors who have the most to lose because of what Danielle Smith plans to do to them as lawyer friends warn. Her plans fit nicely with the Reform Party plan to force Canadians into a privatized health care like Harper tried to do. I wonder where these seniors are going to find medical help if Smith destroys their Public Health Care benefits, but don’t forget it would effect all of us and we have got to make certain it doesn’t. I’m not surprised that Poilievre wouldn’t dare comment on it but wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t somehow involved. Trudeau and Notley must laughing their heads off at these reform party back stabbing fools. I can hear the former MLAs from the Lougheed era when talking about Poilievre . He is just another Reformer to be defeated by Canadians when they learn what he stands for. Their track records shows a sad cases of pathetic defeats and there will be a lot more. Maybe Preston Manning and Stephen Harper created the Reformers for our entertainment, there is certainly nothing conservative about them.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: I also see how people get attacked for exposing the lies of these pretend conservatives and Reformers. They get called all kinds of names, because other people don’t like what is being exposed. It’s really quite a shame.

      1. Anonymous When six of us conservatives formed Sun (Seniors United Now) in 2003 the idea was to travel the province and talk to our fellow senior groups to point out what Ralph Klein was doing to us. Former Don Getty told me that he fully agreed with what we were doing and wasn’t happy with Klein either. We were shocked to find out that he was their hero and we got called Liars, Traitors, Communists, Liberals, Left wing nuts, and Closet Liberals. Now the only thing that has changed is you can now add Lefties and Socialists to that list. These seniors are just as stupid as they ever were and no one is going to change them. Over the years lawyers and university professors have pointed out that these fools will either end up in financial ruin or in an early grave because of their stupid attitude, supporting Reformers who are out to destroy them by privatization they can’t afford or health care services that they can’t get because of a shortage of doctors, nurses or beds these reformers deliberately created. Sadly they are taking all of us with them.

  7. “You know who hasn’t commented on Smith’s proposed Sovereignty Act? Pierre Poilievre.” Mr. Peepers wasn’t silent as he blew through our town a few days ago. As quoted by Postmedia, “We (Canada) rank 64th in the world for the time it takes to get a building permit.” Did he check the world’s list of building permit approvals, count down sixty four spots and eventually land on Canada?

    1. Oddly enough it was the Klein government who bragged about cutting the red tape to speed things up and it gave us the orphan wells cleanup mess and condos being condemned for being too dangerous when they weren’t inspected properly at the time of construction. Now the UCP has been doing the same thing , cutting corporate taxes for the rich, and you can bet it will come back to haunt them when they are kicked out. I can well imagine what Angie Klein thinks about it. She was furious when her dad did it and she was right to be.

    2. I can’t believe I’m wasting time fact checking Skippy, but googled ‘top 100 countries building permits’ for lulz…

      https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/building_permits/ – has Canada #13 among all countries as ranked by number of extant building permmits.

      https://www.nationmaster.com/nmx/ranking/time-needed-to-deal-with-construction-permits – Canada has the 29th longest, out of 187 countries, which would have us ranked #157 in the world.

      Started thinking about massaging these numbers for nuance and then laughed and remembered I’m fact checking Skippy like he’s a grown up or something.

      TLDR; Skippy’s claim that ‘Canada sux at buildings lol’ is likely the truest thing he will say in his entire political career (which is to say, it rates somewhere between ‘flecks of truth’ and ‘mostly baloney).’

  8. “……”Justice Minister Tyler Shandro insisted the government has “a blueprint” for the scheme, which he promised would see more police officers in rural areas than are now stationed at rural RCMP detachments. ”

    Of course they have a blueprint.

    It is the same blueprint that they used for centralizing ambulance services.

    “No cost to rural municipalities” will be achieved by ordering the cities to hand over the $$$$ property tax dollars they collect to fund the anticipated police cost for the following year’s budget to the province.

    Policing costs, particularly in Edmonton and Calgary are the largest item in a city’s budget.

    The cities collect the education taxes annually and hand them to the province. The province receives the tax monies and decides how it will be apportioned throughout the province regardless of how much each city collected.

    The ‘scheme’ as shandro calls it, will work as well as the ambulance dispatch.

    Another complete, miserable failure is in the works. The only thing that remains to be worked out by the ucp is how to blame the Prime Minister for the mess they are about to create.

  9. “Perhaps Rob Anderson, the former Wildrose MLA and chair of Ms. Smith’s campaign, University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, and lawyer Derek From, the three brainiacs who cooked up the ‘Free Alberta Strategy,’ have some notes scratched on an envelope they could share with us.”

    Don’t forget this: “One of the commissioned reports was written by Barry Cooper, a University of Calgary professor of political science. In 2008, the Globe and Mail reported that a university audit had revealed Cooper was in charge of two research accounts that were used to funnel money to the Friends of Science, a controversial organization that had ties to the federal Conservative party and calls human-caused climate change a “myth.””

    “Critics denounce ‘climate-change denialism’ reports commissioned by Alberta inquiry”

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-inquiry-reports-commissioned-critics-1.5873580

  10. Off topic, but wanted to mention that the “environmental radical” the feds made the Minister of Environment is considering allowing Alberta to drain 1.4 trillion liters of tailings ponds into the Athabasca river:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/oilsands-tailings-guilbeault-athabasca-alberta-1.6554755

    Honestly, people get too hung up on “blah blah clean air this drinking water that.” Breathing and drinking are over-rated, besides, who would drink water when they could have beer? Those silly lefties never consider the hardworking shareholders who would be (hypothetically) burdened with the horrible injustice of making less money off of someone else’s labour. Un-Albertan.

    Discouragingly, I just googled “is the athabasca river potable,” and the answer seems to be “depends on how much you like the person drinking the water.”

  11. Happened to tune into CBC’s Calgary at Noon show on August 18. Amazed at how Smith supporters tie themselves in knots, attacking Laurentian élites and wokeys. Dry scary.

  12. I believe that it is a gag to win the UCP leadership.

    If she wins I have no doubt that her tone will change 180 degrees in order to prepare for the next election.

    There is no real substance IMHO to Ms. Smith. She cares about winning. Her own public persona. Alberta voters are well down the list of her concerns.

    Ms. Smith has displayed incredibly poor leadership qualities and judgement in the past. She would be a terrible UCP leader and worse, an abysmal Alberta Premier. Even worse that the current one even though that might be difficult to imagine.

    During this leadership contest she has managed to make Alberta and Albertans the laughingstocks of Canada. The butt of jokes. And it is well deserved.

    My guess is that at some point soon after being elected UCP Leader she will begin to show the shallow depths of her ability and judgement.

  13. Do any of this current batch of AB sovereignty folks remember what happened to QC when the sovereignty party won in the late ’70’s? Major outflow of capital, people and businesses to Ontario. I did my undergrad with people whose folks were transferred out of Montreal when head offices moved. I fail to see how it will be different this time. And here I thought Kenney was trying to get high tech workers/employers to come to AB. Major disconnect.

  14. Such lazy narratives,
    Reincarnation of the “Alberta “Advantage “ narratives with a 2022 twist ,
    I have always found the narratives lazy and shielded by methods,means and people ,repeats of taking down and building up ,
    Lazy bunch ,yawn !

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