Alberta’s Throne Speech hinted at future use of the sovereignty act should the federal government continue to intrude on provincial jurisdiction.
Delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Salma Lakhani on Monday, the Alberta government sent a strong message to Ottawa. Unless they rollback their oil and gas production cap and expedited ‘net-zero’ power grid transition, the use of the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act is all but certain.
"There are powerful forces in our country, including in the federal government, that believe our province must fundamentally alter our provincial economy and way of life, and that we must do so without delay or concern of cost," read the address to Albertans.
As the first piece of legislation tabled by Premier Danielle Smith last December, the sovereignty act enables the province to table a motion at the Alberta legislature to declare a federal law, policy or proposal unconstitutional if they intrude into provincial jurisdiction.
In the event Ottawa ignores Alberta’s plight, they would table motions "detail provincial initiatives and legislation necessary to protect Albertans from these unconstitutional and harmful policies," read the Throne Speech.
"It depends how far the federal government goes in trying to force these regulations on us," Smith told reporters when asked about what it would take to invoke the act.
She claimed federal intrusion on provincial areas of jurisdiction, including provincial power grids, would cost Alberta’s economy billions of dollars in investment and destabilize the local power supply.
Smith also told reporters that a federal cap on fertilizer and oil and gas emissions would also prompt decisive action by the UCP against the feds.
Alberta earned a legal victory after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, as unconstitutional October 14. In response, Ottawa said it would revise the act to comply with the court’s opinion.
On October 30, the premier said the ruling kept Ottawa’s regulatory ambitions in check. "We have received a really strong endorsement from the Supreme Court that the Constitution matters," she said.
However, noticeably absent from the autonomy-minded speech was the Alberta Pension Plan report, which the UCP tabled last month in a bid to reclaim $334 billion assets from the Canada Pension Plan.
New Democratic Party leader Rachel Notley questioned its exclusion from the Throne Speech, maintaining her election promise not to support a provincial pension plan or the sovereignty act.
"Perhaps Danielle Smith’s omission of her signature economic policy [is] because this entire scheme is based on numbers that the Premier herself admitted [Albertans find questionable]," she said in a statement.
After dropping the writ in May, Smith did not campaign on the sovereignty act nor the pension proposal to prioritize affordability and healthcare.