Alberta flexes its sovereignty

In this week’s episode of Alberta vs. Feds, Danielle Smith makes what could be her most controversial announcement yet… 

What happened: Smith is invoking the Alberta Sovereignty Act to push back against federal clean electricity rules. The act is not yet final, but the idea is that it allows the province to refuse to follow federal laws that are deemed as a violation of Alberta’s jurisdictional rights. 

  • Smith disagrees with the federal government over several issues and has long had a bone to pick with a mandate that Canada must have a net-zero power grid by 2035.
  • Since most of Alberta’s power comes from natural gas, Smith has said that this target is “fantasy thinking,” and the province will need until 2050 to green-ify its grid.

Why it matters: This is the first time the Sovereignty Act has been used, meaning we’ll soon find out if it can accomplish anything. Some legal experts warn that any action stemming from invoking the act would likely be ruled unconstitutional and struck down in federal court.

  • However, others believe the gambit could work in this instance, as electricity explicitly falls under provincial jurisdiction in Canada, putting Alberta on solid legal ground. 

Bottom line: Be it flirting with ditching the CPP, eternally fighting against the carbon tax, and now its net-zero pushback, Alberta continues to zig when the feds would prefer it zags.—QH