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Alberta’s Sovereignty Act undermines municipal governance, says Calgary mayor

Jyoti Gondek speaks to the media after being sworn-in as the new mayor of Calgary in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. Gondek said she is opposed to Alberta's controversial Sovereignty Act, saying it will strip autonomy from the municipal government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she is frustrated with Alberta’s controversial Sovereignty Act, saying it will strip autonomy from the municipal government.

The Alberta legislature passed the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act early Thursday, which gives the provincial government the opportunity to pursue a more confrontational approach with the federal government on issues that are deemed unconstitutional and an overreach in provincial jurisdiction.

The bill originally gave Premier Danielle Smith’s cabinet sweeping powers to bypass the legislature and rewrite laws, but that was stripped when the bill moved to the third and final reading in the legislature.

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In an interview with Sue Deyell and Andrew Schultz on 770 CHQR, Gondek said she is frustrated by the bill even after a call with Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Shulz.

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“There is a provision in this act that says the provincial government can dictate provincial bodies, which includes municipal councils, to defy federal legislation,” Gondek said. “That puts us in a terrible position, especially when you consider that we may have to break federal law to align with the province.”

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Gondek said she is willing to work with the federal government to find solutions for municipal issues. She said she had a good conversation with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the recent Big City Mayors’ Caucus in Ottawa.

“We have a very good opportunity to work with the federal government that’s willing to listen to us. That is what I heard while I was in Ottawa,” Gondek said. “The prime minister stressed that he wanted to make sure that provincial governments were partners at the table on decision-making.

“I think the premier is trying to send a strong signal and this is one way to do it, and we will have to see what comes next now that the bill has been passed.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta passes amended sovereignty act'
Alberta passes amended sovereignty act

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner also opposed the bill and called it a “childish temper tantrum” designed to get attention. Municipal leaders were neither consulted nor briefed about the bill prior to its passing on Thursday, according to Penner.

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“Pushing through a narrative that seeks to undermine the premise of good government – relationship building – should show us all that Bill 1 isn’t about Albertans’ best interests,” Penner said in a series of tweets on Thursday morning.

“It’s nothing more than a childish temper tantrum designed to get attention in all the wrong ways.”

— with files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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