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Best case, worst case: City’s deputy solicitor weighs in on Sovereignty Act impact on Calgary

Best case: The Sovereignty Act is just symbolic, said Calgary’s deputy solicitor.

Worst case, it has repercussions on the City of Calgary.

Those were the general responses to Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong during question period at Tuesday’s Combined Meeting of Council.

Demong asked the Sovereignty Act question of the city’s general counsel, wondering if they’ve pondered the best- and worst-case scenarios.  He acknowledged that amendments are still being made and approved, but asked what it means for the municipality.

“I know it’s a little intense, but let’s see what we’ve got so far,” Demong said.

Denise Jakal, the city’s deputy solicitor, said amendments were tabled Monday evening and would likely be debated Tuesday.

Premier Danielle Smith further clarified Monday that the amendments would ensure that legislative approval was gained before any laws were changed. Further, the Sovereignty Act would be limited to areas where federal actions infringed on provincial jurisdiction or threatened the constitutional rights of Albertans.

“With respect to best- and worst-case scenario, I would say best-case scenario for the City of Calgary would be that the act is symbolic and that they don’t use it. Because right now, we don’t really know what it means,” Jakal said.

“Worst case scenario, depending on where the legislature lands, it could have a high impact on the municipality.”

Worst case scenarios?

There has been concern from both Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Deborah Yedlin that the Sovereignty Act creates uncertainty for the local economy.

“If you introduce something and it has to be explained the next day, and you have to hold press conferences that say, ‘yeah, kind of, but not really,’ then you don’t know what it is that you’re looking for,” the mayor said Nov. 30.

Jakal said there could be some repercussions.

“If there was a suggestion of lack of constitutionality or potential harm to the province of Alberta, there could be directives that might interfere with arrangements we have with the federal government,” she said.

“Another example might be you would be directed not to abide by certain laws that perhaps the municipality would be interested in.”

Still, Jakal said it’s all very speculative as nothing’s been formally approved.

“I just want to assure council that Intergovernmental Affairs and the law department are watching very, very closely with respect to any new developments on this,” she said.