Premier Danielle Smith wants you to be reassured that her Sovereignty Act, the first bill of the session of the Alberta Legislature that begins this afternoon, will be both constitutional and effective. 

NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

She wants so badly for you to think it that she has apparently renamed it the Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act

Well, if she can pull off sovereignty of the sort she has in mind within a united Canada, she’s a better magician than old Mandrake ever was!

I have news for you, my fellow Albertans, the Sovereignty Act can be one, or it can be the other, but it can’t be both. 

At least, it can’t be both if you define “effective” the way Ms. Smith has been defining it. To wit: allowing Alberta simply to ignore federal laws its ruling party decides are exclusive provincial jurisdiction. 

All provinces are sovereign within in their jurisdiction in a federation like Canada, of course, and on those occasions when one level of government or another meddles in the other’s jurisdiction, and an actual case can be made for the meddling, there is a mechanism for settling the question. 

Mandrake the Magician (Image: ComicArtCommunity.com).

It’s called the courts. That’s how we Canadian settle constitutional disagreements within the rule of law. History has shown it’s an excellent way to avoid civil violence. 

Ms. Smith and her ilk are impatient with the rule of law. They want their way now and they reckon the fact they say something is so ought to make it so. 

Like the Republicans to the south who they admire and imitate, they no longer really recognize the right of anyone who disagrees with them to be elected. 

I’m pretty sure Ms. Smith knows this is not a legitimate way to run a government in a democracy, but is of a mind to play chicken with Ottawa anyway just to see what she can get away with. 

If it works, cool! If it doesn’t work, it’ll be easy to persuade her hard core supporters Ottawa is being mean to Alberta again and maybe gin up a little more chaos and division. So, also cool!

The serious professional pundits keep suggesting that Ms. Smith actually believes the Sovereignty Act idea is a vote-getter that will smooth her way to electoral victory. 

Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Salma Lakhani (Photo: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta).

More likely, one suspects, that in the absence of an effective Sovereignty Act – or one the courts make short work of – she’ll just use that fact as an excuse to move on to “clear cut intimidation and harassment,” as NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir put it after the premier indicated her government was walking away from her promise to enshrine refusal to be vaccinated as a protected category in the Human Rights Act

“Instead, Smith said she is phoning up organizations with vaccine mandates to urge them to change their minds, tying it to government funding if need be,” the Canadian Press summarized in its report of a news conference on another topic at which the premier was quizzed by reporters on this question. 

“The Arctic Winter Games wanted $1.2 million from us to support their effort and they were discriminating against the athletes, telling them they had to be vaccinated,” she said. “So we asked them if they would reconsider their vaccination policy in the light of new evidence and they did. And I was pleased to see that.”

You can watch Ms. Smith’s glib answer in the final few minutes of the government’s YouTube recording of the news conference.

NOTE TO READERS: I will be on the road later today on my way to a meeting in Ottawa when the Throne Speech is being read by Lieutenant-Governor Salma Lakhani in the Legislature in Edmonton. This is bound to impact my ability to comment as quickly as I would like on the contents of the speech. On the bright side, such performances are usually largely hot air anyway, and the analysis that really matters comes later as each piece of legislation is introduced. DJC

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37 Comments

  1. If Danielle Smith thinks she can challenge things she doesn’t like, good luck with that. That’s not going to happen. She’s full of hot air, and is trying to gain support, because there is a pending provincial election, in May of next year (we hope). The hypocrisy abounds in the UCP. Municipalities in Alberta are bullied by the UCP, and forced to do the UCP ‘s bidding, with policies that aren’t good. When these municipalities speak out against it, they not treated very well by the UCP. The fall sitting of the Alberta Legislature is only 11 days, and was shut down for most of this month, because Danielle was likely to say something absurd, and would be taken to task for it. It’s likely that within the short time in the Legislature, Danielle Smith still will manage to say something wrong, and end up trying to retract on what she said. I also see more and more bribes are being thrown to Albertans, to try and keep the UCP boat, led by Captain Danielle Smith, afloat. The UCP ship appears to be damaged, and sinking. People are so easily fooled by these election bribes. It makes them forget what a bad government Alberta has, with the UCP. This was the situation, under premier Ralph Klein. When he got into hot water, which was quite often, his solution was to bribe Albertans. This wasn’t a success for him. With Danielle Smith, we will see if these election bribes will keep her and the UCP in power.

  2. Yup. The hypnotic powers of the premier to convince the province that we all can live in constitutional Xanadu will be put to the test with this act.

    We can assume Justin “The Cobra” Trudeau will do his dastardly best to thwart our “hero’s” plans.

  3. During the UCP’s recent leadership campaign, the Sovereignty Act was merely a figment of a few individuals’ imaginations. Now it’s ready? Ms. Smith, Professor Barry Cooper et al. must have pulled an all-nighter. Mind you, they have a rich tradition to draw on.

  4. Yes, it will be interesting to see what gets sacrificed when Smith’s you can have it all bubble of political hype hits the reality of actual law making.

    One thing I have noticed from the past version of Smith, is living with her is about learning to live with disappointment. So, for instance those unvaccinated who were expecting human rights protection as promised – forget about it. However, oddly Smith somehow has the peculiar ability to disappoint almost everyone.

    She is also full of contradictions – the supposed libertarian who seems to want to use the heavy hand of government against school boards that want masks and athletic organizations that want their partipants vaccinated. She also want the Feds to “stay in their lane”, but then let’s her pit bull cabinet minister have a go at the RCMP commissioner for something that happened far from Alberta and has little to do with us.

    So I don’t expect the sovereignty bill to be that effective. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the constitionality of it ends up in the courts and Smith eventually ends up on the losing end, like some of Kenney’s resistance initiatives against the Feds. Of course, she will probably pretend otherwise and the election may arrive before that happens.

    As for the Throne Speech, at best they are full of lofty ideals that even well meaning and more competent governments at times struggle to meet. At worst, they are confusing and full of hot air when those who don’t know what they are doing make it up as they go along. In that case, the devil is often in the details later.

    It is much harder actually governing than being a talk radio host that can say whatever populist sounding thing that pops into her head to appeal to her more angry and stirred up listeners. At least she didn’t promise to build a wall on the Alberta border.

  5. I think a new low for Alberta politicians – D. Smith overtly strong arming organizations and business’s that don’t do as she wants. Just like any common shake down ne’er do well.

  6. The Arctic Winter Games is an interesting situation. Since it is only 2 months away, I would assume the vaccine mandate has already had its desired effect: the team members have already been determined, and they probably had to be vaccinated as part of their qualification process. As a result, cancelling a vaccine mandate at this late stage is meaningless.

    “The Arctic Winter Games wanted $1.2 million from us to support their effort…”

    A bit of Googling discovered that the Games’ Wood Buffalo location was announced in February of 2019. (They were supposed to happen last March, but the organizers decided to postpone the event because of Covid.) I think it is pretty safe to assume, then, that the $1.2 million Ms. Smith referred to has already been promised. If so, Ms. Smith’s announcement could have been worded “We told the organizers that if they didn’t drop their vaccine mandate we would break our promise of $1.2 million.”

    This would be a good time to think about the unintended consequences of Ms. Smith’s policy. I wonder if there are any other events – not just sports, but cultural, movie productions etc. that are currently considering an Alberta location that will go elsewhere, simply because the Alberta Government will not allow them to have a safe workplace, especially since it also appears that the government cannot be relied on to honour any funding promises they make.

    The government might also want to consider how embarrassing it would for them if an event organizer chose to call the government’s bluff and cancel their event rather than buckle to the government.

    1. Mike, I had to hit the pause button and rewind, I was laughing so hard….and whatever she said that made him look up, must have caught the camera operators eye, because she did notice something was going on behind her, I would have liked to seen the look on her face when she realized she’d been photo bombed by a masked man…. best part of the speech….still grinning….because you know someone is going to get an earful

  7. “Everyone “calls her so intelligent,but when you have one path to succeed on ,I guess the ring shines,couldn’t imagine going to work with one staged objective ,I would shine too

    1. jrkrideau..the Goodwill??
      okay, I had to stop and think about this, because with these guys, public image is usually portrayed with symbolism, I would suspect part of the Preston and Fraser et al philosophy.
      Most people don’t take in the whole picture, or pay attention to details in the background, but advertisers know that ,what your eyes see and store are more than what you think. I’ve always been a follower/analyzer of the background, it can be quite amusing, enlightening and also worrisome, ask Skippy about his “I didn’t know ” posts…oh of course we believe you, again…anyway..
      Goodwill…..was she trying to portray this to the public, if so abject failure…did someone “complain” to her that these despicables were still wearing masks…I’m thinking a good possibility….would she show up with her troop to “nicely ” ask them if they wanted to keep their * charity * status, wouldn’t surprise me at all. Bullies will always pick on the little guy first and foremost. And mixed messages are her forte, but it’s actually the same message with different backgrounds, so she was shopping for new outfits, how does that song go 2 dressed up as an 8 ?? Some people have figured out, that like rump she told you who she was right from the school board, to crossing the floor, oh never mind the people who elected me to” this” party, I know what’s better for them , I’m joining the other team, to celebrity ( cough) broadcaster, to spewing misinformation, to unprecedented election moves to take the title, …does this story sound familiar, and yes, imho , she is just as much of a danger.

      For everyone who is hoping for the May election to hopefully change things, be aware of the events before then ,we had warnings in January that people didn’t pay attention to, look how that turned out…..as previously stated, give her an inch and she thinks she’s a ruler….but look at the big picture, and who is behind her…as the man said, sometimes you have to look at the basics ie: follow the money. Charities, nonprofit (so called) organizations, churches that could lose their status due to, oh let’s see, federal regulations.???
      W5 ,program within the last 2mths, was quite interesting…but hey, what do I know? just a retiree with alot of time on my hands, I really miss my garden..there I knew which bugs were which and what to do about them……
      DS ,” I love Alberta and Canada”
      excuse me, whose nose is it that I see all the way over here? can you say eau du farm …yup

  8. Smith and her cabinet ministers must have been a laugh a minute in junior high school. I keep thinking of the boy in Grade 7, whose favorite tricks included stabbing classmates with a pencil, sticking them with tacks and body-slamming them into the lockers. It all stopped when a fellow student picked up his books in class one day and slammed them onto the floor, then sat down like nothing happened. He dropped out of school the following year. The reign of terror was over.

  9. There was a big discussion last year over whether vaccine mandates are legal or not, under occupational safety and health legislation. As I recall, the answer (depending on province) was, “Yes, but….” But–employers have to consider alternatives for those who can’t (e.g. because of reactions to an ingredient) or won’t (because of “religious” conviction) get the jab.

    But—under OH&S rules, employers are required to provide a safe work environment. Vaccination against diseases can be required to protect employees, and to protect the business itself from litigation.

    I wonder how long it’ll take for Alberta OH&S, and the Workers Compensation Board, to say “Uh…wait a minute. It’s not that simple.” I wonder how many times Smith has heard—and ignored—that already.

    1. Mike J Danysh: I have known tradespeople. They had to be vaccinated against certain bugs. It was compulsory. That is not only for their safety, but the safety of others can also be an issue. If someone is working for the Red Cross, and is helping after a devastating tsunami hit Southeast Asia, they would have to be vaccinated, because of certain bugs. Danielle Smith cannot tell the Red Cross to not enforce vaccine mandates on the volunteers, or employees of this organization. She’s way out her depth.

  10. In light of recent studies showing a definite link between vitamin D and Covid outcomes maybe Premier Smith should implement a vitamin D mandate. Why not? Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and there’s been lots of speculation this leads to a myriad of health problems. It would really differentiate her with Rachel Notley who seems to have become a vaccine fanboy. Why not make the upcoming election between Vitamin D and vaccines? Discuss.

    1. ronmac: re Vitamin D….as someone who suffered from SADS, lack of vitamin d comes from not enough sunlight and why people in northern climates suffer from sad and depression over the LONG ,DARK, winter, lack of sunshine, why do Albertan’s want to go south, it’s not just the warmth, they just don’t realize that their bodies are telling them they need sunlight. It’s why people who participate in winter sports outside are healthier and happier. Anybody who spends 7-8 hrs a day inside plus commute time gets no sunlight except maybe a bit on the wknd. So whichever so called “study” your supposedly quoting , the lack of vitamin d has been around for over 40 yrs ,because that’s when I started taking it, and getting a job where I got to work outside even more beneficial..So please, do us all a favor, quit trying to push another one of DS’s goofy ideas, next thing you know it’s going to be hydrochloriquine again, or ivermectin–which is literally for a horse’s a** , so if the horse shoe fits….just saying

    2. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. While vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is common in northern climates above a certain latitude, that is not universally true.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432023/

      How did Sweden, a country which is well aware of vitamin D status in its citizens, and regulates the addition of the vitamin (or is it a hormone?) in food, do at protecting its citizens during the Covid pandemic? It seems a novel virus is not so easy defeated. Could it be that government policies have greater importance in limiting the spread of a highly-contagious respiratory infection?

      Canada, too, regulates vitamin D supplementation in milk, BTW.

    3. Ronmac, FYI a paper published this month(!) called “Association between vitamin D supplementation and COVID-19 infection and mortality” (see https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36371591/) reports that “[i]n the population of US veterans, we show that Vitamin D2 and D3 fills were associated with reductions in COVID-19 infection of 28% and 20%, respectively….” “We also find that after controlling for vitamin D blood levels, veterans receiving higher dosages of Vitamin D obtained greater benefits from supplementation than veterans receiving lower dosages.” “As a safe, widely available, and affordable treatment, Vitamin D may help to reduce the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.” All quotes are directly from the abstract.

      Take a multivitamin appropriate to your age and gender. But first make sure your Covid-19 booster is up to date. Problem solved.

  11. Apparently, Ms. Smith is fundamentally dishonest and deliberately deceptive in both her public and private [conscious] representations. That fact is easily demonstrated with evidence that is publicly available. A complete and thorough public dissection of all things Ms. Smith should be a top priority before the Provincial election, noting that nine tenths of the Smith iceberg is still likely below the waterline of public perception.

    So . . . .

    The severely self-interested adolescent Ms. Smith that channels Margaret Thatcher [Smith adds: “I’m not for turning.”] has not yet fully realized that “The [ideological] map is not the territory, the [ideological] word is not the thing it describes.”, even as certain discrepancies between the actual world and her limited and truncated ideological understanding of the world as she perceives it to be demands cynical strategic recapitulation(s) and a refinement of deliberate falsehoods that are designed to mislead and manipulate public opinion in order to fulfill a pre-established agenda.

    “Lisa Young, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, noted that upholding the rights of unvaccinated Albertans was one of Smith’s signature promises during the leadership campaign so her decision not to move ahead with legislation is notable. “This is a significant pivot,” Young said. Young is troubled that Smith will pressure companies and organizations behind closed doors to drop vaccine mandates, instead of passing legislation that can be challenged in court. She said the Alberta government is adding new conditions to funding that aren’t in writing. “It isn’t policy that can be challenged because it’s not written down,” Young said. “So it really takes us into this very problematic place.”

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-premier-pushes-organizations-to-drop-mandates-shelves-unvaccinated-rights-bill-1.6667275

    Disingenuous and manipulative gaslighting Mea culpas notwithstanding:

    “But I know I’m not a talk show host or media commentator any longer. That is not my job today. My job today is to serve each and every Albertan with everything I have and to the best of my ability, however imperfect that may be at times.”

    Yet, “observers say other clues to her agenda can be found in her record as a lobbyist for one of the province’s most powerful business groups. “I find this extremely useful as an indicator of what she’s going to do,” said Laurie Adkin, a political scientist at the University of Alberta. “They now have their president as premier,” said Adkin. “Whose premier is she?”
    “Danielle Smith’s lobbying record holds clues to her governing agenda, observers say”

    https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/danielle-smith-s-lobbying-record-holds-clues-to-her-governing-agenda-observers-say-1.6147253

    “Premier Danielle Smith has continued to carry a torch for RStar since being sworn in, lauding it as recently as Oct. 21 after previously lobbying for the idea as president of the Alberta Enterprise Group. Smith also wrote a letter to then-energy minister Sonya Savage in 2021 unsuccessfully pushing the program. It’s been estimated if RStar grants $20 billion in industry credits, Alberta taxpayers could forego $5 billion in royalty revenue. The RStar program, first developed by the industry group Sustaining Alberta’s Energy Network, has raised red flags with legal experts and energy economists who say it would subsidize work that almost all companies do anyway as a legal condition of their drilling licence.”

    “‘How a fox would design a henhouse’: Rural Alberta leaders roast future oil and gas subsidy”

    https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/how-a-fox-would-design-a-henhouse-rural-alberta-leaders-roast-future-oil-and-gas-subsidy

    The long con of the established Alberta crony capitalist status quo continues to move forward with Danielle Smith representing the iconic” honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” Apparently.

  12. Private enterprise property owner who chooses to require masks in your establishment? Watch out!—you might get a personal phone call from Danielle Smith, care(under)taker premier of the great province of Alberta. News to “one-percenter” Smith: the private business has the freedom and right to refuse entry to anyone, and if it’s everyone, including workers, then it’s not really discriminating, is it?

    I’m reminded of Johnny Hart’s syndicated comic strip “The Wizard of Id.” The regular court jester points out the turret window where pike-poles, bill-hooks and pitch-forks can be seen parading outside. “Sire! The peasants are REVOLTING!!” And the king, sitting on his throne in a funk, back to the window, grumbles, “You sure got THAT right…” It’s a joke, you see.

    Smith went to great lengths to repeatedly say she doesn’t discriminate against anyone, referring to the most discriminated against people—those who refused Covid vaccines— she’s ever seen in her whole life.

    I’d have to agree: she’s not very discriminating. She sure got THAT right!

  13. “…she’s a better magician old Mandrake ever was!”
    A word dropped out of there – “than old Mandrake” makes better sense.

  14. @DJC Having a picture of Lt. Governor Lakhani in this post is very apropos.
    The Lt. Governor has already signaled her assessment of Premier Smith ‘s “Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act” constitutionality will be very thorough.

    Shades of Lt. Governor Bowen and Premier Aberhart abound.

  15. Off-topic, but I found out why the RCMP has not (and presumably, at this point, never will) done anything about the credible allegations regarding Jason Kenney’s election campaign – they were busy with this:

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/alberta-legislature-member-thomas-dang-sentenced-for-hacking-covid-19-vaccine-portal/ar-AA14HrlI?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=669cec57130143b1954d644ebc698add

    As an aside, when a competent organization is hacked by someone who isn’t trying to do anything unethical, they often offer that person a job. Given that this dastardly criminal alerted the public to a gaping security flaw that could otherwise have been maliciously exploited, some “elites” with “the ability to find their own butts with both hands” might claim he has provided a public service and maybe ought to have been fined a dollar. Here’s a quote from the presiding judge:

    “His intention was to provide Alberta Health with the means to prevent such unauthorized activities by others who may have had a nefarious purpose.”

    I wonder if this will dissuade others from trying to protect Albertans’ medical records?

  16. Remember Albertans you deserve this – all of it. You’ll get a lot more too, by the time this loonie so-called premier is finished. Next time an intelligent, caring, competent and honest Premier like Rachel Notley leads this province, don’t kick her out for a self loathing closeted “bachelor” who is unfit to lead anything, and whose nickname in Ottawa circles was “Bumbles”. I have no sympathy for anyone who voted against Notley.

  17. Why does this Premier sound like a prohibition era mobster? All she needs is a Thompson sub-machine gun and a dangling cigarette, and the image would be complete. Where are the masked crime fighters when Alberta needs them. Oh to end this comic strip like era before real tragedy strikes.

  18. I was bad mouthing Trudeau a couple of years ago when a retired lawyer smartened me up. Nothing Trudeau has done has hurt Albertans the way these damn Reformers have, when you look at the stupid antics of Ralph Klein and the hundreds of billions of dollars they have helped the rich screw us out of. Look at what these orphan wells are going to do to our children. He knew how Klein had changed the regulations to allow the oil industry to dump the costs onto the backs of the people. Now we learn that Trudeau gave Albertans an extra $30 billion during the pandemic and latest oil industry crash, while this fake conservative Danielle Smith tries to bribe Albertans with their own wealth, like her hero Ralph Klein did, and continues to cater to her rich friends.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: You sure have it right, everytime. I recall Danielle Smith praising Ralph Klein, but I still can’t understand what’s so good about him. He didn’t get Alberta out of debt. Ralph Klein was also bringing Albertans with their own money. Danielle Smith is now doing it too. When the money runs out, it’s Rachel Notley or Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh who did it. This is so absurd.

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