Alberta invokes its sovereignty law in its fight against Ottawa’s rules

Premier Danielle Smith invoked the Alberta Sovereignty Act Monday to implement new measures in her fight against Ottawa’s looming clean electricity rules, while admitting she had no need the law to implement changes.

Mme Smith said she wanted to invoke the law to send a message that her government is serious about opposing Ottawa’s plan to green Canada’s electricity grid by 2035, a plan that she said it could wreak havoc on Alberta’s natural gas network.

“We are creating an opportunity for the federal government to do the right thing and step back,” said Smith to reporters.

“We are sending the message: ‘Continue working with us to achieve our 2050 goal’,” she added.

Mme Smith made the comment before a motion was introduced in the House under the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act.

She maintains that there is reason to believe that Alberta electricity producers could meet a later target of 2050. An earlier deadline could expose the network to the risk of outage during peak periods, she fears.

The law specifies that House members must debate and vote on motions before the Smith government can act.

Monday’s motion calls on the Smith government to allow provincial officials and regulators not to cooperate with federal rules related to the 2035 green grid – but not to the point of breaking the law. It clearly states that this non-compliance order does not apply to private businesses or individuals.

The motion also calls on Alberta to consider creating a crown corporation that would play a role in the province’s privatized electricity system to provide electricity if the green grid risks depriving citizens of a base load adequate.

While the motion does not call on Alberta officials to break the law, Smith said they would work out some sort of provision to protect them from any lawsuits if that were to happen.

Surprise in Ottawa

In Ottawa, federal Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said he was baffled by Alberta’s decision to use sovereignty law against proposed clean electricity regulations. He said he believed the two governments were moving toward consensus.

“It’s a triumph of politics [partisane] on good public policy,” Mr. Wilkinson told The Canadian Press in an interview.

“This is exactly what Canadians should encourage their politicians to avoid,” he added.

Canada and Alberta have created a climate and energy working group to try to overcome some of the obstacles that separate them on various policies. Mr Wilkinson said the group met five times and four meetings were specific to clean electricity regulations.

Another meeting was planned for December.

At neither meeting did Alberta indicate it planned to turn to its sovereignty law, Wilkinson said.

“In the context of all these conversations, not once have Premier Smith or her staff mentioned that they are considering introducing the Sovereignty Act. To be honest, it’s a bit confusing for me, in the context where good progress has been made,” he mentioned.

Mme Smith said the Sovereignty Act statement is not designed to end the work of this committee.

An ideological decision, according to Guilbeault

The federal Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, also expressed his surprise during a press briefing on Monday afternoon.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of it,” he said of the law, the legal basis of which he doubts.

The minister alleged that the Smith government’s strategy is “clearly motivated by an anti-environment, anti-climate change and anti-progress ideology.”

“We must understand that the Premier of Alberta has put in place a moratorium on the development of renewable energies, which puts thirty billion investments in her province at risk,” recalled Mr. Guilbeault. Thousands of jobs are at risk and it’s completely ideologically driven. »

Mr. Guilbeault published draft regulations in early August aimed at establishing a carbon-neutral energy network by 2035. He said Canada did not want to be left behind as the United States and other G7 countries move forward. are moving towards clean electricity.

He also said any claim that building a clean electricity grid in Alberta would lead to power outages is misinformation meant to inflame rather than inform.

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