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Danielle Smith willing to make changes to her signature Alberta sovereignty bill following criticism

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Just days after introducing her first bill as Alberta’s premier, Danielle Smith says she is prepared to make changes after widespread criticism that the legislation grants unchecked power.

“It‘s surprising for something that was her signature policy that more care wasn’t put into drafting it,” said Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University.

If passed into law, the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act would give Smith’s cabinet sweeping authority to decide what federal laws, programs and policies infringe on Alberta’s jurisdiction and order institutions in the province not to enforce them.

It would also let cabinet rewrite laws without legislature approval.

“That’s not the way things operate and that would be a huge erosion of democracy in this province, something that only occurs in exceptional, almost war-like situations,” Bratt said.

After days of rejecting criticisms like this, Smith now says she is open to making changes to clear up those concerns.

“If there’s some things that we need to change to be able to make it clear that the legislature has the ultimate authority, I’m prepared to do that, but the purpose of the bill is to make sure that Ottawa stays in its own lane, and that’s the reason we put it forward,” Smith said in an interview with CTV Power Play on Friday.

In a statement on Sunday, the premier’s office said Smith will speak to her caucus on Monday about potential amendments to ensure the bill clearly enables the legislative assembly to direct cabinet to take action to defend the interests of Albertans.

However, even with those amendments, Alberta’s NDP says it won’t support it.

“Regardless of the size or number of amendments that the government tries to bring in, this bill cannot fix the damage that’s been done to Alberta’s reputation. The only way to restore our reputation is to kill this bill,” Alberta NDP Economic Development Critic Deron Bilous said at a press conference on Sunday.

The premier’s office said it’s disappointed that the NDP has already voted against the bill before seeing it or proposing any amendments.

The bill is currently in its second reading. There will be more debate this week before third and final reading on this legislation. 

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