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Canada’s Alberta province passed a bill Thursday that allows its government to ignore federal laws it deems harmful — pointing to, for example, measures to curb its oil industry’s emissions. breaking news
Canada is among the world’s top oil producers and much of that output comes from the oil sands in northern Alberta.
The so-called Sovereignty Act is the latest volley in a long-festering feud between Alberta and the national government, which in 2018 imposed a carbon tax and other climate measures to curb CO2 pollution.
Several provinces, including Alberta, fought unsuccessfully all the way to the Supreme Court against the levy, which is set to rise from Can$50 (US$37) per tonne of CO2 emissions to Can$170 in 2030.
Alberta’s newly minted United Conservative Party leader and premier, Danielle Smith, has said the Sovereignty Act could also be used to push back against federal gun control measures.
“The way our country works is that we are a federation of sovereign, independent jurisdictions,” Smith told her legislature during a late-night sitting that stretched past 1:00 am Thursday.
Provinces “have a right to exercise our sovereign powers in our own areas of jurisdiction,” she said.
Before the vote, the most controversial provision of the bill — which would have given Smith’s cabinet sweeping powers to rewrite laws as it saw fit and bypass the legislature — was stripped out.
The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) said the bill remains an unconstitutional “hot mess” that circumvents the democratic process and risks putting a chill on investing in the province.
Indigenous leaders also expressed concern over its uncertain impact.
With an election in Alberta less than six months away and the province’s NDP vowing to repeal the bill if they win, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to avoid being dragged into a grudge match.
“The Alberta government is trying to push back at the federal government,” he told reporters in Ottawa.
Rather than arguing with them, Trudeau said his liberal administration would seek to “work as constructively as possible” on federal priorities such as jobs, child care, dental care and help for renters.
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