Newly passed bill gives UCP authority to set up provincial police force

A newly passed bill has cleared the way for a provincial police force in Alberta and experts are questioning the UCP government’s latest move.

Bill 11, pushed through on Tuesday, gives the province the authority to establish a police force.

Provincial authority has been a big topic lately with the proposal of Bill 20, which would give the provincial government certain powers over municipalities, and the Alberta Pension Protection Act, which gives them the legal ability to pull out of the CPP, and Bill 18, which would give the province gatekeeping power to veto federal funding deals with cities and towns.

Mount Royal political science professor Duane Bratt says Bill 11 is the latest example of the province consolidating power and removing barriers in the way of decision making.

“It’s really about centralizing almost all power and authority in the province,” he says. “They have the legal authority to do this, they have constitutional authority to do this, the question is whether it’s the right thing.”

“This is part of fighting Ottawa and taking control.”

NDP Opposition Justice and Public Safety critic Irfan Sabir says the idea has been long disputed, but he doesn’t believe it’s the right thing to do, citing the lack of transparency.

“There are very little details in the bill,” he says. “There are many things that are left to the regulation, such as how it will be created and deployed, and what will be the cost.”

Sabir says 70 municipalities across the province have signed a letter in opposition of the concept.

Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis says the bill is simply aimed at building the sheriffs’ service, in case the RCMP pull out of local policing when their contract expires in 2032.

The emergencies bill tabled last week is another proposed piece of legislation that has sparked concern about Smith’s United Conservatives making a gratuitous, unnecessary power grab. The bill would give the province the ability to take control of local emergency responses.

Ellis said the emergencies bill is about clarifying existing powers, not creating new ones.

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