The fall legislative season—Danielle Smith’s season—has kicked off, and the field’s already a mess.
Most critical attention right now is on the Premier’s Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act and for good reason. The first draft of this law is absolutely wild.
What the UCP says this bill does is protect you from Ottawa. What the NDP says this bill does is threaten Alberta’s democracy and economy.
What the text of the first draft of this bill says is that executive council—that’s the Premier, the cabinet ministers, and the Lieutenant Governor—are to be granted the power to declare whether they think any federal law, program, policy, agreement, or action is, in their opinion, either a violation of rights or ‘anti-Albertan,’ and then go to the Legislature for a vote. And if the Legislature (presently under the Premier’s total control, with a dominant majority) votes to agree with the Premier, then Alberta just doesn’t do that thing.
That could go for anything in that long list of ‘federal things’ that the Premier and her team doesn’t like. A vaccination program, child care subsidies, a labour agreement with a public sector union, anything: the language is that vague. The only big restrictions in the bill are that the province can’t break the treaties, and the province can’t break the Constitution—but you only really prove something has broken either by going to court, so I doubt that’ll stop them from trying.
We can expect this government to first go after the usual targets of tory theatrics: environmental regulations, gun control, and human rights law.
Earlier this week when the bill got to the Legislature the NDP made the unusual move of voting against even debating it. They’re set against it, no matter what. Not so much are the former candidates of the UCP leadership race. Many of them argued during the UCP’s internal election that the bill would be a disaster; now most of them are lining up to support it, including Brian Jean and Travis Toews.
The situation down at the shop
The resources we’ve had to put into the Progress Report are very strained at the moment, both on the finance side and the human one. Long-time readers may recall that I’ve been in surgery limbo for a while which has put the squeeze on my own work. And Duncan’s got COVID in the household at the moment, so he’s been out sick as well. We apologize for the low volume lately.
Things are looking up: Duncan’s on the mend and that surgery of mine was finally scheduled for this month. I’ll be away for a bit, but over the Christmas break, so you might not even miss me.
We’ve put a lot of things on hold to focus on just trying to keep getting whatever reporting and analysis out on the Report, so we’ve done very little fundraising lately. As you know, we’re a supporter-funded organization, so if you’ve got a little extra to share this season, please consider keeping us going with a modest donation. We haven’t got a lot of gas left in the tank here. Your donation might be the one that keeps the engine running next month.
Speaking of UCP guys who said they opposed the Sovereignty Act: Jason Kenney conveniently resigned as MLA the day it was introduced. It appears unlikely that a by-election will be called to replace him, so Calgary is just down two MLAs until the next government now.
Staff Sergeant Michael Elliott, the president of the police ‘union’ in Edmonton and a prominent voice of back-the-blue/thin-blue-line politics in the city, has resigned. Elliott says that he has stepped down to focus on his mental health.
Danielle Smith says she and her ministers have been personally calling private organizations and browbeating them into dropping their vaccine mandates. “For instance, the Arctic Winter Games wanted $1.2 million from us to support their effort and they were discriminating against the athletes, telling them they had to be vaccinated," Smith told a news conference in Edmonton on Monday. Of course, this is Smith we’re talking about, so even that statement had a fib in it; according to the AWG, they got their funding two years ago.
Robyn Lore, alleged funder of Jeff Callaway’s regionally-infamous ‘kamikaze campaign,’ has had $9,000 of his fines overturned. Though I wouldn’t call it a total vindication: the same judge upheld another $16,000 in fines against him.
- Edmonton’s city council has once again failed to secure proper cold-weather shelter for the unhoused people who live here. Now we’re already at the point where people are freezing to death or having their limbs amputated. Mayor Sohi is pleading with the province for an emergency meeting about the crisis. The provincial government, for its part, has been short-changing the city on its housing obligations for years, and this austerity wasn't made any easier to deal with when several city councilors repeatedly voted to expand Edmonton’s police budget this year.
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