Alberta Premier Danielle Smith at her news conference yesterday in Calgary’s McDougall Centre (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government Video).

Judging from Premier Danielle Smith’s first formal news conference of 2023 in Calgary yesterday, no one needs to worry too much about her using the deceptively named Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act any time soon.

Parks Minister Todd Loewen, who’s been sending ludicrous letters to Liberals (Photo: Government of Alberta).

The newser in the government’s McDougall Centre in Calgary’s downtown was billed as “an effort to provide the media with more access.”

Straight from the premier’s lips, here’s what she said: “We haven’t made a decision to invoke the Sovereignty Act on anything.” 

Don’t expect something like that to happen any time soon, either, if it ever happens. Constitutionally, the act is probably just too flimsy to actually use. 

As a threat, though, it might have some utility, although the longer she waits, the more the likely the desired audience in Ottawa is to conclude that the United Conservative Party’s vaunted constitutional shotgun doesn’t even shoot corks. 

Meantime, Ms. Smith and the Take Back Alberta cadres who plot her strategy will continue to try to gin up “constitutional” fights with Ottawa over which they could, maybe, someday, if they really, really felt like it, invoke ASWAUCA.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault (Photo: Government of Canada).

So, in the past few hours, we’ve had Forestry, Parks and Tourism Minister Todd Loewen penning and posting angry letters to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault demanding that they stop listening to Parks Canada’s advice to close access to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park to private vehicles. 

Good try, but that constitutional dog won’t hunt. 

Plus, in the same time frame, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro put on his clown shoes and huffed about the federal government’s gun buy-back program, which he dishonestly continues to call “their firearms confiscation program.”

Well, you can get your knickers in a twist about that imperfect plan if you like, even though it isn’t a confiscation program, but it doesn’t have much potential as either a target of a constitutional challenge or a campaign issue in Calgary, where the next provincial election is likely to be fought and won.

Leastways, I doubt many soccer moms or dance class dads are going to be all that enthusiastic about the UCP’s plans to get more assault rifles – even if they only look like assault rifles – into the streets of Calgary. 

Federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, an Edmonton MP (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Which leaves the government’s preposterous claim that Ottawa’s “just transition” plan for oilpatch workers facing market-based redundancy is a polarizing and divisive term for a scheme to completely shut down the fossil fuel industry. 

Of course, there’s more bunk in this claim, trotted out Sunday on CBC Television by Environment Minister Sonya Savage, than in a tanker full of Bunker C!

Still, it looks as if it might be the best opportunity Ms. Smith has to make half-credible threats about using the Sovereignty Act, so she devoted plenty of time to bloviating about it yesterday.

Sometimes she was pretty incoherent, obviously just gaslighting. “So we are going to make sure that we put forward a robust plan to reduce emissions in a way that works for Alberta. And then we’ll be prepared to — if we have to — to have them take us to court to fight it out. Because we are not phasing this industry out,” she rambled. “We don’t have to.”

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, who has been stretching the truth a bit about Ottawa’s gun buy-back program (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Say what? Let me know if you have any idea what she was trying to say. 

At times she gave a hint of what the government’s constitutional strategy might actually be. “If the federal government is pursuing emissions caps and targets that are too aggressive, in too short a time frame, and unachievable, it is a de facto production cap, which means it’s a violation of our constitutional right to choose to develop our own resources.” 

Well … to call that a bit of a reach would be an understatement. But it actually is a legal strategy, after a fashion, that gets her a little further than having her minister write lame letters demanding that Ottawa pave paradise and put up a parking lot!

Regardless, if the Sovereignty Act ever gets used, it’ll be so close to the next general election that it won’t have a chance to flop until after the ballots are counted. 

CORRECTION: Whoops! Writing in haste in the wee hours, I accidentally placed Moraine Lake in the wrong national park. My apologies to all. DJC

Join the Conversation


  1. The UCP has all kinds of wacky ideas and plans, and they fall short of being feasible, and end up costing Alberta big money. For those of us who are a certain age, we will remember the cartoon with Wile E. Coyote and the attempts he made to capture the Roadrunner. Those backfired on him. Whatever he tried to do to outwit the fast paced and very intelligent bird, flopped. And so it goes with Danielle Smith and the UCP. The UCP thinks they are smarter than everyone else, but they aren’t. Anything the UCP does, isn’t what a proper conservative government would do, but what pseudo conservatives and Reformers would do. More very pricey shenanigans, the worst oil royalty rates, the worst corporate tax rates, and lost jobs. We certainly didn’t see this foolishness under premier Peter Lougheed.

    1. Anonymous, what an amusing analogy– Wile Coyote– would make a great political cartoon, LOL !!!
      MW dictionary: Wily “chose the right synonym—artful,crafty,cunning, foxy,slick, sly,tricky =”attaining or seeking to attain one’s ends by guileful or devious means “, wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering .
      Yup, that about covers it….

  2. I recall a former Ontario Premier who managed to use a persistent letter writing campaign effectively against a former Prime Minister to help her reelection battle. Of course, she was much more articulate and not just full of empty threats, which might have helped.

    I don’t see park or gun restrictions being a winning issue for Smith either, other than for whipping up those that already support her. However, maybe it will help UCP fundraising. I don’t see the Federal plan for Sustainable Jobs doing much for Smith also, although it really would be better to come up with a new term for it. No one facing employment uncertainty will like to hear it being called “just”.

    However, the biggest danger for Smith and the UCP is that they continue to do nothing but howl in the face of all these supposed terrible Federal provocations. It won’t just be the Feds that conclude her Sovereignty Act is a sham or a toothless paper tiger. UCP and Wildrose supporters may start to get upset at her for doing nothing, much like they did with Kenney after his ineffective Equalization Referendum, that he promised would do a lot, but really accomplished nothing.

    In any event, I think the Feds have figured out the paper tiger is toothless and so they will not let themselves be pushed around by Smith. This will not make Smith’s job of selling her fake magic beans to Alberta voters any easier.

  3. I suppose it can be said, without fear of rebuttal, that if someone speaks with a lot of bluster about how they are going to change things by the sheer force of their will, you can pretty count on nothing happening.

    The much vaunted ASWAUCA is coming across as little more than a paper tiger. As much as Danielle Smith has been promoting is, ad nauseam to her base, it’s beginning to look more and more like the UCP has no idea what to do with the thing. But then it wasn’t designed to do anything, apart from ginning up the base and getting those harvests from rage-farming in. I’ve noticed even David Staples, the once most vocal trumpet for ASWAUCA, arguing that it would change Canada forever, has become very quiet about it.

    ASWAUCA served as a distraction and little else. It was meant to be a distraction from the lunacy of the UCP ministers, like Nicholas Milliken (AB Min. for Mental Health and Addictions) tweeting amusing (re. offensive) posts about the homeless and drug addicted being lazy layabouts, whose conditions are more a hobby than an illness. And more recently, Parks Minister Todd Loewen’s various missives have reached the point of borderline insanity in pretty much every respect. These are clearly not responsible adults — more like angry, rage-addicted toddlers.

    What all this points to is the cagey nature of PMJT’s silence. Smith and the UCP were expecting Trudeau to start wringing his hands over ASWAUCA, but that’s not happening. Rather, he’s waiting and watching Smith and the UCP spin themselves into knots over pretty much every crisis Or, better yet, watching them avoid every crisis, as though it, like COVID, isn’t real.

    The UCP has retreated into a Twitter bubble and indulging in their soothing echo chamber, which declares that Christina Alexandra Freeland is off to Davos for the WEF gabfest, because she’s Klaus Schwab’s number two, as well as being the one child of Joseph and Magda Goebbels who escaped Hitler’s Bunker. Twitter is the most insane platform on earth, but its denizens have the most active imaginations.

  4. David,
    Check your Alberta map. Moraine Lake is not located in Jasper National Park, but is actually a short distance from Lake Louise and is accessed by road by turning off from the Lake Louise access road – all located in Banff National Park. You’ve got to travel North almost to the Columbia Ice Fields before you encounter Jasper National Park.

    1. Michael: No need to be sarcastic, now. Thanks to you and all the others who pointed this out so quickly. My explanation (excuse) is contained in my answer to Bob Raynard, whose correction was the first I spotted this morning. Apologies to everyone. My readers are my editors. DJC

    1. Norm: Thanks to you and all the others who pointed this out so quickly. My explanation (excuse) is contained in my answer to Bob Raynard, whose correction was the first I spotted this morning. Apologies to everyone. Usually I’m pretty good on geography; weak on pop culture. I think I got it the other way on this one. My readers are my editors. DJC

  5. I read the letter Todd Loewen wrote to Minister Guilbeault. True to UCP form, he complained strenuously about the Parks Canada decision, but didn’t offer an alternate solution to the parking problem that at the moment requires Parks Canada staff to monitor the area 24 hours a day, and presently sees 900 vehicles able to find a parking place during the day and 5000 leave disappointed.

    Personally, I think the decision could make for an enjoyable bike ride to Morraine Lake.

    PS: David, Morraine Lake is in Banff park.

  6. The election campaign has begun! It’s much ado about nothing. Say nothing, hold press conferences to say you’ll do nothing, try to stay out of trouble, make a few threats about things that are beyond your scope. Say or do anything and the voters will skedaddle. That’s about it.

      1. Lord oil would be the one forever flowing, I think maiden generally suggests female but it’s 2023 so yeah why not, let’s call it gender fluid, one more thing for the outrage machine.

  7. Not sure why there isn’t more commentary around the UCP flushing 5 billion down the drain in a failed bid to kickstart the Keystone pipeline. Especially when private enterprise and the oil companies that would benefit wouldn’t put a nickel into it. And compared to the NDP being able to get the TMX pipeline under construction with the feds picking up the entire tab. And…if the UCP wants to offer better access to the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies, let’s start with removing the fees to Kananaskis.

    1. Flushing billions down the drain is what the UCP does. IMO it’s not really newsworthy anymore. Now, if they somehow gained billions for Alberta, that would be worth some headlines of the “blind squirrel finds acorn” variety.

  8. The Sovereignty Act must be pretty useless if they’re not planning to hit Justin over the head with it. (Actually, it reminds me of Jason Kenney’s “Get your protest off my sidewalk” law.) I wonder when the Take Back Alberta rank-and-file will demand that Smith “do something.”

    Meanwhile, all those strongly-worded protest letters will wind up in the same filing location as those from Chief Firearms Officer Teri Bryant. Can you say “recycle”?

  9. Everything the UCP is doing is a huge waste, but pushing back on the firearms ban. That’s a massive waste of money. All that money could go to crime prevention or healthcare or education instead.

  10. And Danielle Smith’s recent claim that she will enact healthcare reform without Ottawa’s help smacks of single-payer healthcare services. Hell, she does even want to use the CRA to distribute the so called Inflation-Relief payments, as BC did, where the payments were received in a few days. As for Alberta, those payments will be received .. maybe never.

    But maybe this is the plan? Say you can go it alone without Ottawa, and then blame Ottawa when the whole Alberta-only solution falls into the toilet. Why didn’t Trudeau stop us from shooting ourselves in the face? Then, introduce private healthcare and blame Trudeau for it.

  11. I guess I should say “I told you so”. I told some of my friends that Smith’s sovereignty stupidly was nothing more than a trick to get elected and would be dropped when she did, so she did. Fooling seniors is so easy and that’s who we’re falling for it. Now we hear about another group getting screwed out of their money, what a surprise.

    1. I read you’re a senior Allan, and I’m one too. From my reading you don’t appear to be a UCP supporter, and neither am I. My son consistently complains about his recently graduated friends from suburban Devon who are rock solid conservative voters and scared of the socialists. So why do you repetitively blame seniors for the UCP’s support? To be honest, I’m offended by your ageism 🙂 .

  12. Phrenology, gravity boots, Anita Bryant…all were good ideas in someone’s opinion. So with Dani Dollars and the Outrage Machine. People will eventually stop listening and she will fade into a Prince Harry-like state of crepuscular oblivion.

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