With Danielle Smith campaigning on Alberta sovereignty during the United Conservative Party leadership race, the idea of Alberta leaving Canada has come up once more in political discussion. MP Martin Shields spoke on his viewpoint regarding the responsibility of the federal government as well as separatist parties.
“I represent a constituency federally and so we are working to make Canada a better country, and prior to all the things that do improve the country,” said Shields. “We have a Bloc party in Ottawa and their goal is to separate. We, (the Progressive Conservative Party) on the other hand, are working to make the country better. That’s the way we approach the separatists in the sense of the federal party — the separatists’ party is the Bloc party. We work at making the country a better country so that’s our goal and we work at that. Provinces can work to choose how they want to operate within the federation.”
Shields provided an example of how federal and provincial governments intersect with each other when it comes to legislation.
“There is a piece of legislation that is close to being approved and it is to do with a dental program. One of the things that you look at and say ‘it’s health, isn’t it’ and say to the federal government, you may be wanting to let the provinces — because most provinces have some kind of dental program for their citizens other than company plans — maybe you should be working with the provinces to see how you can deliver that health program within the provinces rather than saying how health programs should work. We have looked at things like where is the responsibility under the constitution, and when the constitution has it clearly outlined that health and resources are the provinces’ responsibility — that’s what they should be doing and not be interfering in those areas that are provincial. So, we take that approach to the confederation, strengthen those things that are federal, and when they are the responsibility of the provinces, the federal government should be out of it.”
Finishing things up, Shields also discussed other examples of provinces wanting to manage their own jurisdiction when it comes to the federal government, and how separating from Canada is strictly a provincial government responsibility.
“Now, if that is what the provinces are talking about — I mean we heard Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia were talking about the importance of being able to take care of their own things in the sense of the carbon tax instead of the federal government implementing. Then we believe that the federal government should stay in their own lane. Well, I think it’s up to the premier and the UCP government to pursue that platform within their own government. That is something that they have to develop and work out as a provincial government, and then that is something they can work with the federal government — whatever their position might be. That’s not something that, as federal MP, we’re involved in developing that for a provincial government.”
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times