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Alberta premier rejects accusations her sovereignty bill is undemocratic power grab

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is rejecting Opposition accusations that a bill granting her and her cabinet sweeping powers to rewrite laws behind closed doors is an undemocratic, dangerous power grab.
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a press conference after the Speech from the Throne in Edmonton, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is rejecting Opposition accusations a bill granting her and her cabinet sweeping powers to rewrite laws behind closed doors is an undemocratic, dangerous power grab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is rejecting Opposition accusations that a bill granting her and her cabinet sweeping powers to rewrite laws behind closed doors is an undemocratic, dangerous power grab.

Smith told the house during question period that under her bill, cabinet can only take specific actions that are first approved by a majority of the legislature in a resolution.

However, legal experts say such resolutions are only recommendations, while granting cabinet wide scope to decide how to unilaterally take action. 

Smith’s sovereignty legislation fulfills a promise the premier made this summer to pass a bill challenging what she considers federal intrusions into areas of provincial jurisdiction.

The bill, if passed, would give Smith’s cabinet the power to decide which federal laws, programs and policies — or potential federal initiatives — are unconstitutional and need to be challenged. 

Under the bill, once the legislature gives the go-ahead to act, cabinet would be able to rewrite any law it deemed applicable without going through the legislature, while also directing any provincial agency, municipality, school board, health region or municipal police force to not enforce federal laws.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2022.

The Canadian Press