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Meeting to discuss Ottawa's 'Sustainable Jobs Act' on Monday

A meeting on Monday could be the first test of Premier Danielle Smith's new mandate, to stand up to Ottawa, after already speaking out against federal legislation known as the "Sustainable Jobs Act."

Some political watchers say they are watching if this may prompt the province to apply the Alberta Sovereignty Act, to which some cabinet ministers have responded vaguely.

On Thursday the federal Liberals tabled the act or Bill C-50, saying it will create a mechanism to protect jobs as the shift to a clean energy economy is already in progress.

The bill is largely bureaucratic, and specific action for jobs is unclear.

House of Commons, Ottawa


However, newly-elected Premier Danielle Smith has already publicly spoken out against Ottawa's move, saying it would be disregarded entirely if it didn't align with Alberta.

A statement sent Thursday reads in part:

“As the development of Alberta’s natural resources and the regulation of our energy sector workforce are constitutional rights and the responsibility of Alberta, any recommendations provided by this new federal advisory council must align with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan. To that end, multiple Alberta government appointments to the council to ensure this alignment should be a mandatory requirement of the proposed legislation.

“To be clear, if this new advisory council provides the federal government with recommendations that are inconsistent with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan or otherwise interferes with our province’s constitutional jurisdiction over the development of our natural resources and regulation of our energy workforce, Alberta will not recognize the legitimacy of those recommendations in any manner."

Brian Jean, Alberta's Minister of Energy and Minerals, agrees.

"Under the division of powers under the constitution, we should not only be consulted, but (the federal government) should stay out of our jurisdictional rights and matters," he said.

Alberta energy and minerals minister Brian Jean

CTV News asked Jean directly if his government would use the Sovereignty Act. He would not answer directly, but Jean did say his government will use whatever means are necessary.

"To use (whatever is) within our disposal to protect the rights and livelihoods of Albertans? Of course we will. That's our job."

Political watchers have long criticized the sovereignty act for lacking tangible power, but also for the veiled threat it could be used soon.

"People (should) keep asking the premier, what exactly do you think you can do with this legislation, because it's not obvious to anybody that's in this space that and understands the space, what it can actually do?" said Martin Olszynksi, law professor at the University of Calgary.

He later added, "It's an interesting sort of fine line that she has to dance here. Between appearing to be tough on Ottawa to placate her base, while at the same time, not scaring away potential federal dollars that can assist with some of the transition."

Another academic says the premise of the bill is provoking a fear-based reaction from Alberta leaders.

"I'm hoping that we can actually move away from emotion towards economics," said Paul Kellogg, professor in political science, economy and labour at Athabasca University.

He later added, "The criticism of it says this is an implicit attack upon the oil and gas industry and implicit attack upon oil and gas employment in the province of Alberta, etc. That's a big discussion."

Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson arrives to a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Smith, Jean and the federal natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson will meet in Calgary on Monday.

Details of the meeting have not been shared, but officials say the group will discuss the Sustainable Jobs Act. Top Stories

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