Editorial—Sovereignty for Who Exactly?

The Alberta Sovereignty Act, sorry, The Alberta Sovereignty Act Within a United Canada has been been put forward.  Because a title change means so much.

It’s both better and worse than expected.  Better because it does not actually say that federal laws or court decisions at any level can be ignored, rather that the government can instruct provincial bodies not to enforce federal restrictions.  This has a host of problems, of course, as a lot of criminal legislation, such as many of the laws around financial fraud and insider trading, are federal in nature, not provincial. Not that I’m suggesting anybody in the UCP might have an interest in making it more difficult for the federal government to enforce such laws.  Certainly, after all, every elected member there is a paragon of virtue.

Worse, however, because as it’s currently written any enaction of it could lead to significant changes in Alberta legislation with no oversight, no hearing, and no real limits on where or how that change could be applied.  Which is odd, because for a bill that’s supposed to be protecting Alberta’s sovereignty, I can see no reason why Alberta’s own laws would need to be changed in anything other than the usual fashion.

No legitimate reason, I should say.  There might be plenty of reasons why the UCP would like to change laws without oversight.  We saw this when they first tried to change the laws around coal mining on the eastern slopes.  Public outcry forced them to back away, but if they hadn’t had to make the legislative changes public, people might not have been aware until they started seeing large parts of the environment being hauled away.

Currently, some members of the UCP have suggested that any changes to legislation the bill causes would still have to go through the normal procedure, but the bill itself says nothing of the sort.  I mean, it doesn’t specifically say they don’t have to, but it gives a new procedure for the laws to be amended (that being that the Lt. Governor of Alberta says so based on what they think is ‘advisable’ to handle whatever reason was put forward to start the process), and no indications that the normal procedure would still apply.

Now the UCP government has come forward and suggested they’re willing to take amendments to the bill.  But the amendment is simple.  Section 4.1 a) is the part that gives the Lt. Governor the power to amend Alberta’s laws without oversight.  Take that out, and what’s left is almost exactly what we have today, with the exception that the Lt. Governor can make the orders rather than a cabinet minister having to take responsibility.  Either the UCP have no idea how to handle legislation so can’t see how to do that on their own, or they simply don’t want to.  Or both, I guess.  I could see both.

At any rate, we’ll see what comes of this in future weeks, in the meantime, check out our latest student interview with a visiting student who intends to pursue her Masters of Counselling at AU, or our latest Course Exam, where we look at AU’s latest English course, English 460, or some of our latest advice on unusual Christmas gifts.  Plus there’s always the latest in events, scholarships, reviews, life advice, ruminations on AU, recipes and more!

Enjoy the read!