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.
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.
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.
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.”
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