On Thursday, NDP leader Rachel Notley unveiled the first three bills her party intends to roll out next session, including caps on electricity rates, insurance rates and post-secondary tuition as part of Bill 1.
Notley claimed Albertans would save, on average, $450 from caps on utilities and $450 in changes to insurance. She also touted thousands in savings for post-secondary students.
In addition to legislating affordability measures, the NDP would also table Bill 2 to repeal the Sovereignty Act and Bill 3 to consolidate support for the CPP.
"You and I share Alberta's mainstream values; Danielle Smith does not," said Notley. "I've been going all across this province listening to Albertans, and I'm becoming more and more confident that we are going to win this election."
During the Alberta leadership debate on May 18, the NDP leader claimed the Sovereignty Act "undermines the rule of law."
Notley accused Smith of "supporting the private interests of [Pastor Arthur Pawlowski, who she says is] accused of wanting to promote violence against the police."
Smith defended the leaked February 9 call with the accused, where she told him she had weekly contact with "prosecutors" on his criminal charges stemming from the Coutts border blockade. She contended that it's her job as an elected official to listen and act on concerns from the public.
"This chases away investment," added Notley in the same exchange.
University of Calgary political scientist Dr. Barry Cooper told Rebel News he does not believe Canada will negotiate with Alberta on areas of shared jurisdiction.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault last week he would not phase out the use of coal by 2030. He also said transitioning the province's electricity grid to net zero by 2035 is not feasible.
Smith told Rebel on Friday she would "stand with Moe" when the federal government intrudes on provincial jurisdiction, but has been noticeably silent on protecting Albertan sovereignty since the writ dropped.
"[It's] not in our campaign because I think we've got so many things that we have done that we're excited about. We're bringing in $10-a-day daycare," she said in an interview with Global News on May 5.
Instead, the UCP leader has prioritized revitalizing Calgary's downtown core, public safety and health care to attract undecided voters.
"Acting with the authority of the Sovereignty Act, the Government of Alberta could do the same thing [as the Saskatchewan First Act]," said Cooper, adding that if he were advising Smith, he would urge her to keep the coal plants open.
However, Smith negated that possibility, as Alberta is based principally on natural gas because of a "very aggressive transition to natural gas."
"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he wants to shut down the oil sands — so has his lunatic environment minister," said Cooper. "These two are not playing with a full deck…as their culture or ideology is one of deep and abiding hatred of the culture of this province."
"The refusal of Canada to negotiate will mean the window for Alberta remaining in Canada will have closed."
Notley fueled the fire by condemning the UCP for potentially leaving the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). She said that is a 'top issue' among senior voters concerned about stability.
"Albertans are clearly worried about their retirement security," said Notley. "They do not trust the UCP to play around with their retirement security."
In December, Smith said she hoped a referendum might be possible with the May election but has since said the province would not likely make getting out of the CPP a ballot question for the general election.
"It's unlikely to be held in May," she said. "We want to make sure people understand the implications and the cost, and it's unlikely that we'll be able to roll that out that quickly."
"I want to make sure people know that if we did proceed with the decision, then it would be up to the people, as the Fair Deal Panel had recommended to us," continued Smith.
The UCP has also promised that any move to replace the pension plan would only be made after a referendum.
"There is no need for a referendum that the UCP manipulates after an election," said Notley.
Cooper chimed in, stating the "real problem" in Ottawa: "They deeply despise the citizens of this province, and the sentiment is returned with interest," he added. "It will be interesting to see whether that sentiment is expressed in the current election or whether the myths of Laurentian Canada return the catastrophic NDP to office."
"If so, that will certainly clarify things and postpone independence."
Smith clarified that Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty Act within a United Canada Act, is not a precursor to separation.