Kelly McParland: How decades of Liberal indifference created Danielle Smith

Ron in Regina

"Voice of the West" Party
Apr 9, 2008
Regina, Saskatchewan
Danielle Smith and Justin Trudeau clashed Friday over Ottawa’s plan to override unco-operative provinces and deal exclusively with municipalities on the housing crisis, with the Alberta Premier saying the Prime Minister should instead focus on national priorities.

Ms. Smith is critical of federal plans to negotiate directly with municipalities for a share of a new multibillion-dollar fund to pay for infrastructure necessary to build more housing.

Soon after the Premier’s comments, Mr. Trudeau unveiled a sweeping federal plan in Vaughan, north of Toronto, to build 3.87 million new homes in Canada by 2031 long after he’ll be released from mismanaging Canada.

Ms. Smith said her government’s response to what she calls federal overreach is proposed legislation that would stop municipalities from bypassing the province in pursuit of Ottawa’s funding.

Referring to the legislation, Ms. Smith told conference delegates, “You may have seen this week I introduced the stay-out-of-my-backyard bill.”

The Premier said the federal government in general, and the Prime Minister specifically, should be focusing on national priorities.

“There is no shortage of things that the Prime Minister can do. It’s not a boring job,” Ms. Smith said.

The provincial priorities bill would require entities under Alberta’s purview, including universities, school boards, housing agencies and health authorities, to obtain the province’s consent before entering, amending, extending or renewing agreements with Ottawa.

Ms. Smith has said deals between the federal government and provincial entities that do not have Alberta’s blessing will be illegal under the proposed legislation.

Ms. Smith came to power by promising legislation, dubbed the sovereignty act, that Alberta argues can be used to reject federal laws the province regards as beyond Ottawa’s jurisdiction. The act has not been tested in court.

Smith told a news conference that it is inefficient for Ottawa to think it can make individual deals on housing with the hundreds of Alberta municipalities.

“That is the very definition of red tape,” she said. “Our provincial government has established relationships with all of those municipalities and so it just makes sense that they would work through us so we can ensure the dollars get through to the municipalities who need it.”