The Queen’s representative in Alberta, Lieutenant-Governor Salma Lakhani, is threatening Alberta’s democracy. The Lieutenant-Governor says her office would independently evaluate the constitutionality of United Conservative Party leadership contender Danielle Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Act before signing it into law.
The Sovereignty Act would permit the province to bar federal legislation deemed harmful to Alberta. The Lieutenant-Governor says her constitutional role is pertinent and she must ensure Alberta’s follow the rule of law.
“This is where we keep checks and balances,” Lakhani told reporters on Thursday, the CBC reports.
“I’m what I would call a constitutional fire extinguisher. We don’t have to use it a lot, but sometimes we do have to use it.”
In an emailed statement to The Counter Signal, the Smith campaign said, “As Danielle has said repeatedly, she will work collaboratively with caucus to ensure the Sovereignty Act is drafted in accordance with sound constitutional language and principles.”
Smith said the inspiration for the Act came in 2015 when Ottawa hampered Alberta’s ability to develop and sell its resources abroad, causing undue financial and economic turmoil for Albertans — including many who now back Smith. Smith has touted the Sovereignty Act as a means to stop federal interference resource projects, vaccine mandates and Trudeau’s gun control legislation.
UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean said he’s “extremely uncomfortable” with the Lieutenant-Governor getting political.
“That said, Danielle Smith’s lack of clarity on this issue is already causing a constitutional crisis,” Jean wrote on Twitter. “To end this controversy, Smith must produce the text of the Sovereignty Act before UCP members vote.”
Smith has not yet released a draft of the proposed bill and Lakhani said she must see it before assessing whether it’s legal. The Lieutenant-Governor also said she’s prepared for backlash from Albertans who believe she should play a ceremonial role.
Premier Jason Kenney has called the “Sovereignty Act’ nuts” and that it’s “unthinkable” it would be granted royal assent.
UCP leadership opponents Rebecca Schulz said the proposal calls for a breaking of the rule of law, while contender Travis Toews said it would ruin investment in the province.
Smith is leading her six opponents in all recent UCP leadership polls. UCP members will elect a new leader and Premier on October 6.