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Danielle Smith says premier, Alberta Lt.-Gov. wrong to comment on sovereignty act

United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith called it "inappropriate" for both Alberta Lt.-Gov. Salma Lakhani and outgoing Premier Jason Kenney to criticize her proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Smith accuses Jason Kenney of tipping the scales in favour of Travis Toews

UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith says it's inappropriate for Premier Jason Kenney to criticize her top priority legislation, the Alberta Sovereignty Act, before he has seen the bill. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith called it "inappropriate" for both Alberta Lt.-Gov. Salma Lakhani and outgoing Premier Jason Kenney to criticize her proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Smith made the remarks in a video posted to social media Friday and in an accompanying news release. 

A day earlier, Lakhani said she would consult with legal experts before giving royal assent to a potentially unconstitutional piece of legislation.

Lakhani said her constitutional role is the most important part of her job and that Alberta must follow the rule of law.

The act, as described by Smith, would give Alberta the ability to ignore federal laws that aren't in the province's best interest. 

Smith called on Lakhani to retract her statements.

The former Wildrose leader also took issue with Kenney's comments on 630 CHED Friday morning. 

Kenney told host Shaye Ganam that Smith's act would put the lieutenant-governor in a very "awkward" position and hurt investor confidence in Alberta. 

"This is unprecedented and entirely inappropriate political interference in our democratic processes," she said in a news release sent Friday. 

In the video, Smith accused the premier of trying to tip the scales in favour of his "preferred" leadership candidate Travis Toews, who served as finance minister in Kenney's cabinet before stepping down at the end of May. 

"You want to talk about creating a constitutional crisis," Smith says in the video.

"Having a caretaker premier in the position where he is acting the way he is is what's creating a constitutional crisis. 

"I would ask him to stop. I would ask him to stop weighing in on this contest. And if he wants to continue in the position of being a caretaker, in the meantime, that's exactly what he should do."

Smith's supporters have criticized Lakhani for her comments on the sovereignty act. Peter Guthrie, the UCP MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane, claimed that the federal Liberals were influencing Lakhani. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Lakhani to serve as Alberta's lieutenant-governor in August 2020. 

"It appears the Ottawa elites through Trudeau's appointed representative are interfering in the UCP leadership race on a piece of legislation that hasn't yet been written or debated in Alberta's legislature," he said on Twitter. "If Trudeau is against, it must be right."

Lakhani said she needs to see a bill first before deciding what action to take. She plans to raise the question of how to handle a potentially unconstitutional piece of legislation with her counterparts at vice-regal conference in Newfoundland next month.

Smith and Toews are among the seven candidates running to replace Kenney as UCP leader. 

Kenney plans to step down as soon as a winner is announced on Oct. 6.

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