Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says members of her cabinet will not have a free vote on the Alberta Sovereignty Act, unlike the rest of her caucus. 

She made the comments in Sunday’s episode of The Andrew Lawton Show.

“The question will be for people that are not supportive of the (Sovereignty Act), is it going to be a whip vote or a free vote?” Lawton asked.

Smith said she will have the support of cabinet to move forward with the proposed legislation. 

“All of the votes are going to be free votes,” she said, before continuing, “I think that in the Westminster parliamentary tradition we know that that cabinet has different, a higher standard of (needing) to be with the government agenda.”

The new premier said she’s spoken with her cabinet and they’re aware the Sovereignty Act is coming forward.

“I have no doubt that I’m going to get the support of my Cabinet and if there are still some lingering concerns within our caucus, I want to be able to address those,” she told Lawton. 

Smith’s proposed Sovereignty Act was a hallmark of her leadership campaign, pitched as a way to assert Alberta’s autonomy in the face of a hostile legislative agenda from Ottawa.

During the leadership race, Smith said the Sovereignty Act would give MLAs the opportunity for a free vote on a special motion about whether a federal law or policy violates Alberta’s jurisdictional rights under the Canadian Constitution or Albertans’ Charter rights.

All Smith’s United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership opponents except Todd Loewen came out against the Sovereignty Act during the leadership contest. Runner-up Travis Toews, now Smith’s finance minister, said it would create economic uncertainty and chase away investment.

Now, all the former candidates are in Smith’s cabinet except Leela Aheer, who’s since announced she won’t run for the party in the spring general election. 

Smith told Lawton it’s her job as leader to address caucus concerns about the Sovereignty Act before it’s tabled in the legislature. 

“We will be working very hard over the coming weeks to make sure that we can address all of those concerns and I would hope that everybody will come on board with the approach that I intend to take,” she said. 

At the UCP annual general meeting on Oct. 22, the premier said she’s asked for the Sovereignty Act to be ready when she takes her seat in the legislature. 

“When Ottawa announces policies and laws that attack our economy or violate the rights of our people or when Ottawa seeks to take control of our sovereign areas of provincial jurisdiction, our UCP government will not enforce those laws and policies in this province, period,” Smith told party members. 

Smith is running in the Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection and could have her seat as early as November 29, if successful. 
Watch the full episode of The Andrew Lawton Show here.


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.