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The Alberta “Sovereignty” Act and Indigenous Jurisdiction – First Peoples Law

February 2, 2023

In the final month of 2022, the Alberta government passed the so-called “Sovereignty” Act purporting to limit federal power and expand provincial jurisdiction within Alberta.

First Nations have already raised serious concerns that the Act will erode their treaty rights by concentrating legislative authority in the hands of the provincial government. The Act’s existence also highlights important, unanswered questions about the legitimacy of provincial governments’ assertion of jurisdiction over Indigenous Peoples and lands in Canada.

What is the Alberta “Sovereignty” Act?

The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act came into force in December 2022.

The Act asserts the federal government is harming residents by passing laws which should be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the province. It provides a process for cabinet and the legislative assembly to deem federal initiatives unconstitutional or harmful and to identify measures that cabinet should take in response, including directing ministers to alter regulations under their authorizing statutes and issuing directives to provincial entities to disregard federal legislation.

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