Alberta Minute: COVID Conundrum, Democratic Reform, and Three Big Court Cases
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
- Today, Alberta's COVID Cabinet Committee will be deciding whether or not to move to the previously laid out Step 3 of the Province's reopening plan. This would let adult team sports resume, allow some indoor gatherings, open museums, create fewer restrictions on places of worship, along with a few other changes. The government seems to be preparing people for a delay, though, with a focus on increases in the spread of variants.
- The Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills will be meeting at 9:00 am today to discuss Bill 213 which increases the maximum speed limits on provincial highways. Meanwhile, the House is sitting until Thursday and the government intends to pass "supplementary supply" to fund itself to the end of the fiscal year, initiate a special committee on Real Property Rights and continue debating Budget 2021.
- If you didn't think this week was busy enough, the results of two big court cases will also be announced. First, the Ontario Superior Court will rule on the constitutionality of the federal government's quarantine hotels in a case taken by our friends at the Canadian Constitution Foundation. Then, on Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario led the fight to the Supreme Court, arguing that the tax infringes on the provincial jurisdiction. This case could have a massive impact on the future of Alberta and Canada, so we'll let you know what happens as soon as it's announced.
Last Week In Alberta:
- The Province finally introduced Bill 52, the Recall Act. Recall could be a big win for Albertans, as it will allow Albertans to hold their elected officials accountable between elections, but the Bill needs more work to be effective. In particular, we think it should start 6 months after an election, not 18 months, we think the signatures of 10% of eligible, or 20% of actual voters should be required, not 40% which is an incredibly high bar, and we think people should have 120 days to collect signatures, not 60 days. You can read our full thoughts on the Bill here.
- The Province also introduced Bill 51, the Citizen Initiative Act. We're also very pleased with the intent of this Bill, though as with Bill 52, we think the thresholds required to achieve a Citizens Initiated Referenda are too high. Our friends at Project Confederation have provided an excellent summary of the good and no-so-good parts of the proposed Bill here.
- Finally, in more court news, this time from the United States, 21 states announced that they are taking the Biden administration to court for the abrupt cancellation of Keystone XL. "The Executive's unilateral decision to revoke the Keystone XL permit is contrary to the constitutional structure to which the states agreed at the time of ratification," the states said in the lawsuit. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney offered his support to the states pursuing the lawsuit. It's certainly concerning that some states seem to be fighting harder for this pipeline than the Canadian federal government.
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