A lawyer for the city of Calgary suggested the province’s proposed sovereignty law could create problems for the municipality, including forcing the council to resist certain laws against its will.
Deputy City Attorney Lynne Davies spoke about the legislation, touted by the ruling UCP as a way to protect provincial jurisdiction from federal overreach, in response to a question from the coun. Peter Demong during question time at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“I realize that they are still in the process of amending the law, but I was hoping that you could describe what the proposed sovereignty law means for us as a municipality from a best-case scenario to a worst-case point of view, ” said the ward 14 councillor.
Davies said the best-case scenario would be if the province doesn’t use the law at all, as many questions remain about its potential effects.
She said at worst it could have a significant effect on the city.
“For example, if there was a suggestion of a lack of constitutionality or potential harm to the province of Alberta, there could be directives that could interfere with arrangements we have with the federal government,” Davies said.
“Another example could be that we are told not to abide by certain laws that the municipality might be interested in obeying.”
Five things to know about the Alberta Sovereignty Act within a United Canada
UCP caucus votes to propose changes to Alberta’s controversial sovereignty law
‘It could cause us problems’: Alberta’s sovereignty bill could deter investment, Calgary Chamber says
She said there was still a high level of speculation about what was to come.
“I just want to assure the council that intergovernmental affairs and the legal department are keeping a very, very close eye on any new developments on this particular file.”
A recent Army poll showed that only about one-third of provincial respondents felt the sovereignty act was necessary.
Premier Danielle Smith said at a news conference on Tuesday that she thinks Albertans are keeping an open mind about the legislation.
“People want us to fight Ottawa when they interfere in our areas of jurisdiction,” Smith said. “We got a 62 percent mandate to push back against Ottawa and their unfair levy of equalization, so we need to put the tools in place to push Ottawa back into its own lane.”
Smith cited a Canadian Taxpayers Federation report that suggested once the carbon tax is fully implemented, Albertans will pay an extra 37 cents per liter at the pumps, while Quebec drivers will pay just 23 cents per litre.
“It is absurd to me that SUV drivers in Quebec are going to have cheaper gas and diesel prices than Alberta where we manufacture and refine the product. These are the kinds of things the federal government does all the time and in my opinion I don’t think it’s constitutional,” Smith said. She said the sovereignty law would give the province the tools to challenge Ottawa.