Alberta Premier Asks Cabinet Members to Keep a Unified Approach in Dealing With Ottawa

Alberta Premier Asks Cabinet Members to Keep a Unified Approach in Dealing With Ottawa
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a press conference after members of her cabinet were sworn in, in Edmonton on Oct. 24, 2022. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
Rachel Emmanuel

EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has asked her cabinet to maintain a unified approach when dealing with Ottawa, pushing back on issues such as the gun buy back program. 

“On major policy issues, our government will be discussing a push back strategy to address issues such as the federal oil and gas emissions cap fertilizer reductions, and the firearms confiscation program,” Smith said in a letter to her cabinet ministers on Oct. 27.

She added that Alberta is consistently treated as a subordinate level of government with unilateral federal decisions that landlock resources, undermine provincial prosperity, and make life less affordable for Albertans. 

“Alberta is to be treated as an equal owner of government under the constitution and not as a stakeholder,” she said.

“Alberta has its own legislation, policies, priorities, and procedures. Alberta’s government is accountable to its residents, not to the federal government.”

Speaking at the United Conservative Party annual general meeting on Oct. 22, Smith said work has begun on her much-publicized Alberta Sovereignty Act, legislation she proposed during the leadership race to oppose federal legislation deemed harmful to the province. The premier said she has asked for the proposed bill to be ready to be tabled in the legislature by the time she has a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly. If she’s successful in the Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election, that could be as early as Nov. 29.

“We will introduce it, we will pass it, and we will use it to push Ottawa back in its own lane every time they step out of line and intrude on our constitutional rights,” Smith said on Oct. 22.

Until then, Smith told her cabinet in her letter to carefully consider the effects of federal spending on the province. She added that targeted, time-limited federal funding agreements often focus on federal priorities, undermine the constitutional responsibility of provinces in areas like resource development, and target municipalities directly in an attempt to circumvent provincial authority.

Cabinet ministers must consider the constitutional division of powers, equal orders of government, accountability to citizens, and jurisdictional diversity, Smith said. 

“There may be cases where Alberta will seek to opt out of new federal program if they aren’t in Alberta’s best interest,” she wrote. 

“If the federal government does not honour cooperative federalism through meaningful engagement, we will simply not participate in their consultations.” 

Ministers were also told to share all information related to federal funding and federal funding proposals with Intergovernmental Relations to ensure a unified approach. 

Rachel Emmanuel covers federal and Alberta politics.
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