Smith tells Lieutenant-Governor, Kenney to ‘butt out’ of leadership race

Rachel Emmanuel

September 2, 2022

Danielle Smith is telling Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Salma Lakhani and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to “butt out” and stop interfering in the ongoing United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race. She’s also accusing Kenney of favouring opponent Travis Toews, who was Kenney’s finance minister.

On Thursday, Lakhani joined Kenney in wading into the ongoing leadership contest by commenting on the Alberta Sovereignty Act, a cornerstone policy of the Smith campaign. Lakhani said she would launch an independent review before giving the bill royal assent to ensure the proposal is constitutional.  

Smith said the Lieutenant-Governor made an error in judgement by interfering in the leadership race. 

“I would ask her to retract her statements,” she said in a video posted to Twitter. 

In the same video, Smith took aim at Premier Jason Kenney, saying it’s inappropriate he commented on the proposal. Kenney has called the Sovereignty Act “nuts” and said it would make Alberta a “laughingstock.” 

Kenney is “mischaracterizing” the bill, Smith said. 

“I have always said that I will work with constitutional lawyers to ensure that what the legislation does is in full compliance with the Constitution,” she said. “And the fact that he chose to weigh in to try to tip the scales in favour of his preferred candidate Travis Toews is obvious to everyone.”

Smith also asked the Toews campaign to tell Kenney to “butt out” of the leadership race. 

She then accused Kenney of creating a constitutional crisis by travelling internationally and spending the taxpayer dime while he’s a “caretaker Premier” who will exit the role in five weeks.

“If you want to talk about creating a constitutional crisis, having a caretaker Premier in a position where he is acting the way he is, is what’s creating a constitutional crisis,” Smith said. ” I would ask him to stop weighing in on this contest. And if he wants to continue in the position of being a caretaker in the meantime, that’s exactly what you should do.”

Smith has said the Sovereignty Act would bar federal legislation deemed harmful to Alberta’s interest. It would enable major energy projects to be built in Alberta again, allow Alberta to avoid federal vaccine mandates, and halt gun control legislation, Smith said. 

The Lieutenant-Governor said she must ensure Alberta follows the rule of law, which includes examining Smith’s proposal if is reaches the point of requiring royal assent.

“This is where we keep checks and balances,” Lakhani told reporters on Thursday. “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.”

As first reported by The Counter Signal, Elections Canada data reveals that Lakhani has donated over $27,000 to the federal Liberals.

Smith is considered the UCP leadership frontrunner, with all recent polls placing her at the front of the contest.

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