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Danielle Smith says she’s happy to clarify confusion over sovereignty bill

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at a press conference after the throne speech in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. JF

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says her government is crafting changes to be debated next week to reverse the part of a bill that gives her cabinet unfettered power to rewrite laws behind closed doors without legislature approval.

Smith appeared on 630 CHED and 770 CHQR Your Province, Your Premier Saturday saying that her sovereignty bill was never supposed to give cabinet such sweeping authority, and says her government wants to make it clear in law that this is not the case.

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“I think that there was some confusion or some lack of clarity that if there’s any changes to statutes, it does have to come back to the legislature. So we’re working on making sure that that gets clarified, but that seems to be the biggest criticism,” said Smith.

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She added she is open to cleaning up any “awkward wording” that led to such mass confusion.

The bill, introduced this week, has faced widespread criticism and condemnation for granting Smith and her cabinet authority to redress any federal policy, law or program it deems harmful to Alberta.

Critics say such power exercised in secret without legislature oversight is a threat to the checks and balances that underpin a healthy democracy.

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The bill has also raised concerns over the provision that grants cabinet the power to order provincially legislated or funded entities to reject federal laws.

Those entities include municipalities, police forces, health regions, post-secondary institutions and school boards.

The Alberta Legislative Assembly will resume session Monday.

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