Advertisement

Smith’s bill to protect Alberta’s unvaccinated won’t be introduced in legislature

Click to play video: 'Alberta Premier Danielle Smith introduces controversial sovereignty act'
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith introduces controversial sovereignty act
WATCH: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has given her first throne speech, introducing the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act. Heather-Yourex West reports – Nov 29, 2022

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is reversing a promise to enshrine human rights protections for the COVID-19 unvaccinated in law this fall.

Instead, Smith said she is phoning up organizations with vaccine mandates to urge them to change their minds, tying it to government funding if need be.

Smith is also asking Albertans to call her government to report on those imposing vaccine mandates.

“I’m calling people,” Smith told reporters Monday.

“The Arctic Winter Games wanted $1.2 million from us to support their effort and they were discriminating against the athletes, telling them they had to be vaccinated.

“So we asked them if they would reconsider their vaccination policy in the light of new evidence and they did. And I was pleased to see that.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says vaccine mandates are “unacceptable” discrimination'
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says vaccine mandates are “unacceptable” discrimination

Smith said she heard an Alberta film production has a similar policy for its hairdressers, so she has directed a cabinet minister to call the company to urge it to reconsider.

“I’m quite prepared to make those phone calls and have my (cabinet) ministers make those phone calls if there are other examples,” Smith said.

“If there is still discrimination, I’d like to know about it… people should contact their MLAs.”

Read more: Danielle Smith addresses comments about unvaccinated being ‘most discriminated against group’

Read next: Canadian pilots were warned of ‘untethered balloon’ amid China surveillance concerns

Opposition NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir denounced the phone calls as intimidation tactics in the service of an anti-science United Conservative government.

“If you believe in science, if you believe in public health measures, your funding will be cut, you will be discriminated against,” said Sabir.

Story continues below advertisement

“That is clear cut intimidation and harassment.”

Click to play video: 'Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to be required at Alberta ski hills'
Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to be required at Alberta ski hills

The legislature is scheduled to resume Tuesday for the fall sitting, but Smith said the agenda will not include her promised bill to amend the provincial Human Rights Act to forbid restrictions based on someone’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

Read more: Danielle Smith wins UCP leadership race, to be next Alberta premier

Read next: Liberals ditch gun law reform critics said would ban hunting rifles

Smith won the leadership of the United Conservatives mainly by leveraging anger within a faction of the party over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and health restrictions that they deemed unnecessary and a profound breach of personal freedoms.

On her first day as premier last month, Smith called the COVID-19 unvaccinated the most discriminated group she had seen in her lifetime.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Alberta’s new premier faces backlash after calling unvaccinated people the ‘most discriminated against group’'
Alberta’s new premier faces backlash after calling unvaccinated people the ‘most discriminated against group’

On Monday, she said she has revisited the human rights issue and believes the problem has become somewhat moot with most employers not having vaccine rules.

And she said rather than be hasty, she wants a more detailed analysis in order to find more durable, broader, long-term solutions and protections later.

“Just making this one change to this one piece of legislation isn’t going to be adequate,” she said.

“(I) didn’t want to do this as a bit of slapdash measure. I want to make sure we’re solving this problem for the future.

“I think my supporters will understand.”

Read more: Alberta school districts not allowed to shut down in-school learning despite high absenteeism

Read next: Freeland says Canada must seize clean economic opportunities in response to U.S.

Story continues below advertisement

As recently as five weeks ago, Smith said the human rights change needed to be passed immediately, characterizing it as a stand-alone symbolic line in the sand tantamount to an Alberta declaration of freedom.

Click to play video: 'Sovereignty act, affordability to define Fall legislative session in Alberta'
Sovereignty act, affordability to define Fall legislative session in Alberta

In an Oct. 20 speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Smith told the audience the bill was coming this fall whether they liked it or not.

“I want to give you fair warning: we are going to be making a serious pivot,” Smith told the chamber luncheon.

“We want to send a message to the community, and to the world community, and to the investment markets that this is a place that is open for business, that this is a place that believes in freedom, this is a place that believes in free enterprise and this is a place where we’re not going to be making arbitrary decisions that are going to disproportionately impact small and medium businesses.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Premier Danielle Smith addresses Edmonton Chamber of Commerce'
Premier Danielle Smith addresses Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

The first bill in the sitting is to be Smith’s long-promised, controversial Alberta sovereignty act, since renamed the “Alberta sovereignty within a united Canada act.”

Smith has promised the legislation would allow the province to reject federal laws deemed as encroaching on provincial jurisdiction but in a constitutionally respectful manner. Smith has not explained how this would be done.

Legal experts have said such an act as described would be unconstitutional.

Sponsored content