CANADA Danielle Smith's "sovereignty" plan separates her from UCP leadership

Danielle Smith’s “sovereignty” plan separates her from UCP leadership


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Critics, including UCP leadership candidates, say Daniel Smith is creating problems with the constitution with his Alberta law plan, which allows the province to refuse to enforce laws it doesn’t like. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

in alarm fantasy sequence in episode The Simpsons, a young Lisa Simpson imagines playing the saxophone at a rock concert as the audience bombards her band with ridicule. She breaks out of her daydreaming and asks, “Why would they come to our concert just to boo us?”

This scene came to my mind while watching the first forum in the young Alberta United Conservative Party leadership race. It was hosted by the violently anti-Ottawa group Free Alberta Strategy and moderated by Rob Anderson, a lawyer and former MLA.

Anderson and his group are touting the Alberta Sovereignty Act, Alberta’s plan to systematically refuse to support or enforce any federal policy or action that it believes interferes with the interests of the province, jurisdictionally or otherwise.

The fact that seven of the eight candidates for the UCP’s top leadership joined the group’s political forum suggests that they may have sought to embrace this idea of ​​sovereignty, which Anderson himself predicts will cause conflict with the Supreme Court of Canada and spark a constitutional crisis.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Anderson said in an interview, referring to constitutional crises. “Crises can bring a lot of good things.”

However, most of the leadership candidates came to the forum to boo his idea. Rajan Soni said that if an idea’s own authors consider it to be overtly political and unconstitutional, “it sounds like a signal of virtue and a distraction.” Then Rebecca Schultz: “We can’t just not follow laws we don’t like.”

Brian Jean, though he has “autonomy” in his campaign slogan: “If you don’t have the rule of law, then you’re heading towards tyranny” (the point of view of University of Calgary law professors). also raised This week). Travis Toews said that “creating chaos” would slow down Alberta’s economic growth, and so on.

Reigning Sovereignist

But Danielle Smith was delighted. The former leader of the Wild Rose Party (which, along with Anderson, went over to Tory Jim Prentice in 2014) is not only a fan of this Sovereignty Act – she has already claimed it as her own. first day priority. Smith believes that Alberta could use this tool to shield Alberta from everything from the Emergency Act to vaccination regulations to Internet content regulation.

“Our job is to make sure we take care of the business and take care of our people,” she said at the forum. She added, clearly referring to the legal quagmire the bill is meant to provoke: “I’m the type of person who believes in asking for forgiveness, not permission.”

The only other candidate who showed warmth towards this crisis-friendly legislative initiative was a much less visible candidate: Todd Lowen, rural MLA. exiled from the collection of the UCP. In other words, the rest of the UCP field not only succumbs to this explosive idea to Smith; they call it harmful to the province.

UCP leader candidate Rajan Soni has criticized Free Alberta Strategy’s idea of ​​an Alberta Sovereignty Act on the group’s leadership forum. Most of the other candidates did the same, with the exception of Danielle Smith. (YouTube/Alberta Free Strategy)

There are two recent paths that such provocative ideas have taken in the political struggle. The 2017 Conservative federal contest has a proposal by Kelly Leitch to screen immigrants with checking values – from which her rivals quickly distanced themselves. Leitch finished a distant fifth.

Then there’s Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the border and somehow make Mexico pay for it – something his main Republican rivals quickly distanced themselves from. He won the White House.

With just three months to go before the coronation of a new UCP leader and prime minister, it’s not entirely clear which path Smith’s bold idea will take. Although it is clear that she has split from the pack, and that Alberta’s conservative activists had an appetite for action that would be much more aggressive towards Ottawa than Jason Kenny federal-provincial fistfight.

Meanwhile, another tactical example that the Smith camp no doubt remembers is that of Pierre Poilevar in the current federal leadership race. His unconventional agendas that channel angry sentiment and challenge established institutions, such as his debacle of Bank of Canada leadership, allow him to clearly dominate the race.

Smith also readily embraced other Free Alberta strategies that also appeared in the notorious 2001 campaign. Alberta Firewall Letter: Establishing the province’s own police force and pension plan, and separately levying provincial income tax. For nearly two decades, conservative prime ministers from Ralph Klein onwards shrugged off such ideas until Kenny blew his face. Fair Deal Panel consider them.

The Kenny group disapproved of the tax collection proposal, as did most of the UCP leader candidates on the forum, because it creates costly bureaucracy and duplication for individual tax filers. The policing and pension ideas have received a warmer welcome from many of these would-be premiers, but have generally been bracketed with caution and require more consultation before proceeding as polls consistently show Albertans wary of these serious changes.

Smith declares a greater desire to install these firewall boards, seeing that individual police forces and the tax collector are inextricably linked to the defiance that the Sovereignty Act creates.


Travis Toews’s endorsement by most of the caucus and his high profile as former Treasury Secretary Kenny makes him a presumed favorite of the establishment and a presumed leader.

But while an “anyone but Toews” movement may rise among those who disdain the UCP establishment, among the critiques of Rob Anderson’s ideas in this forum, the seeds of a movement within the party against Smith’s extreme positions were sown—just as this developed in the course of the CCP leadership’s debates with Poilivre.

The buzz from party insiders suggests that Smith is one of the first contenders for Kenny’s crown. There is a similar message in the lengths they went to to avoid her biggest plan for the Smith government. Did they all come to a Rob Anderson event just to boo her?

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