Posted on Oct 15, 2020


EDMONTON - Premier Jason Kenney’s UCP government finally bowed to intense pressure to repeal Bill 10, but he won’t abolish his unconstitutional power grab until spring of 2021.

“Albertans of all political colours told Jason Kenney that Bill 10 was an unforgivable attack on democracy from the very start,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “But if the UCP is serious about undoing the damage they’ve done, they must commit to immediately repealing Bill 10 when the legislature reconvenes next week.”

Bill 10, the Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, was rammed through the legislature in April by Health Minister Tyler Shandro. It gave UCP government ministers the power to write new laws without the consent or even the knowledge of the elected members of the legislature. This unconstitutional power grab prompted a court challenge against the government, and drew widespread condemnation from legal experts and advocates of civil liberties from across Alberta and Canada.

The UCP created a committee to review the Public Health Act, in hopes of defusing the controversy. At an August 27 meeting, Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, told MLAs Bill 10 was “both unconstitutional and it's harmful to your constituents."

“Cabinet ministers can create new legal powers that limit individual liberties and freedoms. This vests in one person too much power that can do too much harm to the rights of your constituents," Bryant said.

Early this morning, Shandro announced he would repeal the bill in the spring of 2021. This is a striking reversal of the marching orders given only days ago to UCP MLAs on the committee. 

On September 29, UCP MLAs defended Bill 10 and voted down an NDP motion to repeal it. UCP MLA Brad Rutherford claimed the NDP proposal “looks more like an opportunity to grandstand”. UCP MLA Roger Reid said “our issue with the Public Health Act is that we can’t hamstring the government.”

Bill 10 is on the agenda for the UCP annual general meeting this weekend. The Calgary-West constituency association is calling for the repeal of Bill 10, describing it as “unconstitutional legislation that was rushed through the Alberta Legislature.” The association, home of government whip Mike Ellis, also wrote “Albertans have a constitutional right to have their elected representatives involved in the making of new laws and have not given the government mandate to override the basic tenets of representative democracy by giving power to one person to override the rights of millions because it is their opinion to do so.”

“Today’s announcement is a desperate attempt to spare Kenney and Shandro the embarrassment of being held accountable by their own UCP members,” Shepherd said. “There is no need to delay - repeal Bill 10 immediately.”

Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition calls on Premier Jason Kenney to commit to repealing his unconstitutional Bill 10 power grab immediately on the return of the legislature.