EDMONTON, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) — Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s “Sovereignty Act” legislation was passed Thursday in the province’s legislature, despite pushback from left-wing critics including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
United Conservative Party (UCP) MLAs under Smith put their full support behind the bill to quicken its passage, which will now become law once it receives Royal Assent.
The act was passed with minor amendments made to it by the UCP, namely to make sure that Alberta’s regular legislative process is followed should a resolution be brought forth under the act.
The now-passed Sovereignty Act intends to prevent “unconstitutional” federal government overreach into matters of provincial jurisdiction, including but not limited to “firearms, energy, natural resources and COVID healthcare decisions.”
Smith had introduced the legislation, formally named Bill 1: Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act, just nine days before its passing.
The bill will most notably help the province push back against federally-imposed rules that impact the region’s oil and gas sector, a major backbone of the western Canadian economy.
At the time of its introduction, the government explained that the act “will be used to push back on federal legislation and policy that is unconstitutional or harmful to our province, our people and our economic prosperity,” with Smith herself explaining that there is a “long and painful history of mistreatment and constitutional overreach from Ottawa has for decades caused tremendous frustration for Albertans.”
The bill was opposed by Alberta’s opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), under former Premier Rachel Notley. The NDP claimed Smith’s Sovereignty Act was dangerous but did not bring forth any amendments to the bill.
Trudeau also took issue with the bill, threatening to take action against the Albertan government, saying all options remain on “the table.”
After the act passed yesterday, Trudeau slightly changed his tune and said his government would now work with Smith, but once again warned of Alberta’s efforts to “push back at the federal government.”
“We are not going to get into arguing about something that obviously is the Alberta government trying to push back at the federal government,” said Trudeau. “We are going to continue to work as constructively as possible.”
While many on the political left provided pushback, former Canadian Supreme Court justice John C. Major put his support behind the Sovereignty Act, rhetorically asking, “what’s so terrible about the province saying, ‘if you want to impose on us, you better be sure you’re doing it constitutionally?’”
Smith’s Sovereignty Act was a trademark of her campaign for leader of the UCP and premier of Alberta, promising throughout her run that if elected, she would table legislation to help make Alberta as independent from Ottawa as possible while staying in the Confederation.
Many have pointed out that Trudeau’s opposition to provincial autonomy, particularly with respect to the overseeing of natural resources in the western provinces, seem to mirror aspects of his own father’s policies.
In 1980, Trudeau’s father, then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, famously attacked Alberta’s oil and gas sectors by introducing the much-hated national energy program (NEP), which severely hampered Alberta’s and other provinces’ energy industries.