The Alberta Sovereignty Act: Misdirection by Smith to Convince Albertans the Sky is Falling

The Alberta Sovereignty Act, signed into law by Premier Danielle Smith, continues to stir significant controversy and raise concerns about its potential impact on Alberta’s Indigenous people and those who do not share a separatist point of view. Considering the lack of a referendum and possible violations of Indigenous rights, the shortcomings of the Sovereignty Act are evident.

If Premier Danielle Smith genuinely intended to pursue Alberta’s separation from Canada, the proper democratic approach would have been to follow Quebec’s example and hold a referendum. A referendum allows the people to express their will and determine the province’s future. However, Smith hastily passed the Alberta Sovereignty Act in December 2022 instead of seeking the people’s mandate. This raises questions about her extremist point of view and undermines the act’s legitimacy.

The Alberta Sovereignty Act sets the stage for a four-year tumultuous and expensive fight between the Alberta and federal government. This legal battle will likely involve law firms accustomed to doing business with the province, leading to significant financial costs potentially reaching tens of millions of dollars. It is important to question the wisdom of engaging in such a bitter and unnecessary conflict, especially when it is clear that a referendum on secession would have failed.

One of the most concerning aspects of the Alberta Sovereignty Act is its potential impact on Alberta’s Indigenous community. By asserting provincial jurisdiction over Indigenous peoples, the act disregards centuries of Treaty rights and the fact that the federal government is responsible for protecting Indigenous rights in Canada. This blatant disrespect for the rights of Indigenous people can be seen as an attempt to modernize colonization without the democratic mandate of a referendum.

Premier Smith claims that the Alberta Sovereignty Act is a response to the ongoing disagreements between the federal government and Alberta. However, it is a well-known fact that no state-led legislative body and any federal government have ever seen eye to eye on every issue. In such cases, the appropriate course of action is to negotiate to address differences, not to hastily enact laws to conceal the government’s failure to communicate and negotiate effectively. Smith’s act reflects a lack of understanding of the fundamental principles of governance.

Smith’s rhetoric surrounding the Alberta Sovereignty Act includes misleading claims that Alberta’s inability to develop its natural resources is a reason for secession. However, throughout the history of Alberta’s governments, including under Premier Kenney, there have been no talks of secession due to resource development constraints. Smith’s attempt to portray this falsehood is reminiscent of the misleading tactics often associated with the Trump era. Albertans must recognize this propaganda for what it is—an attempt to manipulate public opinion for personal or political gain.

Smith suggests that the federal government’s reluctance to reach an energy agreement will hurt Albertans. However, it is essential to understand that responsible resource development requires a balance between environmental protection and mining natural resources. The federal government’s role in establishing checks and balances is crucial for the sustainability of Alberta’s economy and for preserving the environment. Halting all natural resource mining would have catastrophic consequences, affecting jobs, companies, infrastructure development, and critical services like healthcare. Smith’s claims disregard the necessity of striking a delicate balance.

Smith’s threat to use the Alberta Sovereignty Act against the federal government demonstrates a deliberate naivety and misunderstanding of the hierarchical governance structure. Bullying the federal government through such legislation is both unproductive and ineffective. Moreover, if Smith truly believes that the act is a tool for intimidation, it exposes a lack of comprehension of how government functions in practice.

Despite the daily rhetoric echoed by Smith and the media, what remains unsaid is that the Alberta Sovereignty Act is ultimately as useless as the paper it is written on. The act explicitly states its limitations and clarifies that it will not allow Alberta to defy Canada’s Constitution or separate from Canada. It also ensures that all constitutional and legal requirements are met, including respecting court decisions. Hence, the act merely serves as a manipulative tool to mislead Albertans into thinking that their future is at stake.

Premier Danielle Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Act presents a grave threat to Alberta’s Indigenous people, disregarding their rights and undermining the federal government’s responsibility to protect them. Additionally, the act’s failure to seek the democratic mandate through a referendum raises concerns about its legitimacy and reflects an extremist point of view. The act’s potential consequences include a costly and unnecessary battle with the federal government and misrepresenting facts to manipulate public opinion. Albertans must see through these tactics and recognize the Alberta Sovereignty Act for what it is—a futile and misguided endeavour.