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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is following Quebec’s lead as her government tables legislation to force the federal government to obtain provincial approval on future deals with Alberta municipalities.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Alberta government tabled the Provincial Priorities Act to enforce Section 92 of the Constitution which states that municipalities fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. 

Jurisdiction has never stopped Ottawa from seeking to grab more control from the provinces for a good news headline, which includes funding announcements that don’t align with provincial priorities, Smith said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

“Our government believes Albertans are entitled to their fair share of federal funding and to have that funding spent on priorities that matter to them,” she said.

“We won’t put up with any further manipulation or political interference from Ottawa.”  

At the Council of the Federation in Nova Scotia in November 2023, Smith said Canada’s premiers all indicated their opposition to Ottawa stepping over provincial governments to forge agreements directly with municipalities. 

“Many of us spoke about pursuing legislation similar to what is in Quebec, which prohibits the federal government from bypassing their provincial governments when making deals with municipalities,” she said. “In fact, the federal Quebec minister made sure that we all had a copy of that legislation before we left that day.” 

Smith said the Trudeau Liberals have had the “barest” representation in Alberta as evidenced by Liberal policies that would devastate the provincial economy. Ottawa also fails to provide Alberta with its fair share of per capita program funding. 

“And we see this when they actively work around us to find funding agreements with municipalities and provincially regulated and funded organizations that run counter to Alberta’s interests and priorities,” Smith said. 

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said Alberta and its municipalities are being shortchanged by the federal government. He said it’s difficult to achieve collaboration when one of the parties isn’t aware of what the other governments are doing. 

He pointed to recent federal funding agreements to help build housing in Calgary while excluding the rest of the province.

“And while it’s great to see our federal counterparts wake up to the need for affordable housing in our two largest cities, Alberta is much more than Edmonton and Calgary.” 

Speaking from Calgary on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $600 million to fast-track the construction of homes across the country. That includes $500 million in low-cost loans to build homes using “innovative” techniques, such as modular construction, and another $50 million to kick-start an innovative technology fund.

Another $50 million will be invested in expediting home building through regional agencies such as municipalities.

Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon said Ottawa is continuing to bypass the provincial government to work with municipalities, which are within the province’s jurisdiction. 

“It’s left us with a situation where if mayors have a good relationship with the federal government, they seem to be getting money from these announcements, and if mayors don’t know the federal government — particularly in smaller communities in our province — they continue to be left out from these conversations,” Nixon said Friday. 

He also said Alberta won’t be bribed by funding that comes with conditions such as “green building codes,” which he claimed will make construction projects more costly and make housing projects take longer to build.

“We won’t be taking money from the federal government that requires us to make housing more expensive, that will damage our housing industry — which by the way is working at a record pace.”