Letter: Alberta Sovereignty Act would bring economic chaos

Albertans have legitimate and longstanding grievances with federal overreach and the fiscal and economic policies coming out of Ottawa. As a province, it is critical that we have real, strategic solutions to win meaningful reforms.

My opponent, for the leadership of the governing UCP, Danielle Smith’s proposed Sovereignty Act, characterized as unconstitutional and unenforceable and at worst, a disaster and a dead end, is neither real nor strategic.

In a recent opinion article, Ms. Smith claimed this act would merely be asserting our constitutional rights, and “essentially give Alberta the same power as Quebec.” Both of these claims are patently false.

It is presented as a straightforward way to protect Albertans from any federal laws we oppose, such as anti-development environmental proposals and the carbon tax. If it sounds too good to be true — it is.

With even a cursory closer look, the act, as initially outlined last fall as part of the Free Alberta Strategy, relies on individual Albertans en masse to break the law at great personal legal risk. It demands that people and businesses shelter all assets in new Alberta banks to escape federal enforcement from their illegal activities. Smith has not clarified how much of this proposal she endorses, but one of the original authors is her campaign chair.

Within their plan, the authors disclose that their proposal can’t insulate “those individuals or businesses (who) continue to entrust their financial assets to federally regulated banks.” They openly admit that, for any Albertans or Alberta businesses who aren’t willing to cut all financial ties to the rest of Canada, especially in banking, this plan to defy numerous federal laws simply won’t work.

Does anyone really believe that Alberta corporations are willing to openly break federal law and hope to avoid the legal and financial ramifications that brings? Or to cease operating with mainstream Canadian financial institutions? Absolutely not.

The Sovereignty Act would, without doubt, curtail new investment into the province. Not only that, we would see established businesses abandoning Alberta for more stable jurisdictions.

Quebec never recovered from the exodus of head offices and jobs in the 1970’s as its provincial government beat the separatist drum. Albertans can’t afford the same fate.

The Sovereignty Act is not only economically naïve, it is politically dangerous. Albertans are frustrated with the way we are treated by Ottawa and the colonial attitude of central Canadian elites towards the west. This plan stokes that fire with no prospect of success.

I wholeheartedly share that frustration. Meaningful reform to strengthen Alberta within Canada is a top priority for me and I have a strategic, practical and, most importantly, achievable plan to accomplish that. My blueprint to defend our energy, agriculture and forestry sectors from Ottawa’s punitive policies includes taking Bill C-69 to the Supreme Court, dealing with the U.S. and other countries directly on trade, and developing a suite of tariff and non-tariff barriers that can be strategically applied to fight attacks on our jobs. Combined with a path forward on equalization and an Alberta Pension Plan, we will see real results — not just more political bluster that over-promises and under-delivers.

My assertive but pragmatic plan will make us more autonomous and provide billions of dollars in annual benefits to Albertans without jeopardizing our prosperity now or for future generations. More importantly, it is a plan that all Albertans can buy into.

Alberta is on the cusp of a strong economic rebound. In the past three years, our government made Alberta the best place in Canada to do business. We cut both red tape and business taxes by a third. We are expected to lead the nation in economic growth this year and next. We’ve worked hard to restore the Alberta Advantage and investors are taking note with investment pouring into our province, bringing thousands of new jobs to Alberta families.

The Sovereignty Act would derail our economic recovery and leave us vulnerable to an NDP victory in the 2023 election.

Albertans want to keep our province on a strong track and preserve the gains we’ve made. They want an effective means to push back on federal intrusion that will lead to real wins, not job-killing economic chaos.

Travis Toews

Publisher’s Note: MorinvilleNews.com / Morinville Online accepts correspondence from all candidates in the leadership race, MLAs and opposition members.

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