Premier Kenney was highly critical of the proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act at a press conference today. His recent comments about the act come in the peak of the UCP leadership race, but Kenney said he is only restating his public stance which he has held since the act was proposed last September.
"This would be a disaster for Alberta. This government was elected on a commitment to create jobs, grow the economy and get pipelines built. This so called sovereignty act would be a body blow to all three of those things. It would massively drive away investment, it would cause people to leave the province, and businesses not to come here. Just when our economy is experiencing such fantastic economic momentum."
Kenney expanded on this topic, saying this is something he knows due to the time he's spent working with prospective investors to bring their businesses to Alberta. He said no business is interested in working in a jurisdiction that doesn't follow the law.
"None of them (businesses) are interested in working in a jurisdiction that rejects the rule of law, that rejects the authority of the judiciary, that believes it can tear up the constitution. And none of them are interested in separation from Canada, which is essentially what this is proposing."
Another concern Kenney has is the precedent Alberta could set if we were to adopt the sovereignty act. He believes that other provincial government could then do the same thing, resulting in a country where each province does whatever it wants. He specifically pointed to a time where the Federal Government stepped in to let Alberta build a pipeline to British Columbia.
"If the principle of the so called sovereignty act were to be accepted by other Canadian governments, farewell pipelines. Because it is federal law that regulates inter-provincial pipelines. It is a federal law that has overcome strenuous objections by the British Columbia provincial government to build the Trans-Mountain expansion. The British Columbia government though, ultimately respected the rule of law and the authority of our judiciary when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Trans-Mountain expansion could go ahead. And they struck down British Columbia's effort to impede that pipeline. How and why? Because it was the B.C government respecting federal authority under the constitution and authority of our judiciary."
On top of this, Kenney pointed to Quebec as an example of how quickly things can go sour if a province plans on separating from Canada.
"We know, this is not theoretical, we know because of what happened in Quebec after René Lévesque and the Parti Quebecois was elected in 1976 on a separatist platform, Quebec overnight began to hemorrhage people, money and investment. Hundreds of thousands of Quebecers moved west, primarily to Ontario, but some of them have made great Albertans."
"As they left, guess what happened. The housing market crashed. Housing prices in the greater Montreal area crashed by around 25% in the year following the election of René Lévesque. Because nobody was coming to Montreal from the rest of Canada, but people were fleeing political uncertainty. They wanted to be Canadians, they didn't want to wake up one morning and find they were living in another country."
Kenney said he heard from people in favor of the sovereignty act that there isn't anything to worry about, because the United Nations charter guarantees land locked jurisdictions access to coastal markets. He said it's nutty to hear this from the supporters, who he said would never be in favor of actually doing this.
"So the same people who are promoting conspiracy theories bout the UN and world economic forum would invite UN peacekeepers wearing blue helmets to come in and enforce the construction of a pipeline to the BC coast? This is just nuts."
Ultimately, Kenney said he will always act in what he believes puts Alberta's best interests first, and the sovereignty act would be severely detrimental to the province.
"My job as the premier of Alberta is to defend the vital interests of this province. Driving away investments, hammering our economy, and forever potentially killing the prospects of coastal pipelines would massively damage Alberta, and I think Albertans need to be aware of that."
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