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Phillips says Bill 18 more destructive than Sovereignty Act

Posted on May 2, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Shannon Phillips is sounding the alarm on Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act, and its implementation in the province.

The Lethbridge West MLA and Alberta NDP Finance Critic said April 19 she believes Bill 18 to be ill-conceived, and said it is more destructive to the province than the Sovereignty Act.

“The Sovereignty Act was at least a piece of political theatre, at least as far as we can tell,” Phillips said. “This is a real threat to millions of dollars that comes into the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College every year.”

Bill 18 was introduced earlier this month to require provincial entities to obtain approval from the Alberta government before entering into, amending, extending or renewing any agreement with the federal government.

Phillips told reporters the bill is a massive overreach and a threat to economic development funds, as well as to money that comes to cities, county and tourism organizations and other organizations that benefit from funding.

“The way you know that, is not the assuring words that the government began with on Bill 18, but the words that Danielle Smith used once she was in Ottawa,” said Phillips.

She said Smith mentioned she wants to interfere in the research process, she wants to interfere in what kind of grants go to Alberta universities and colleges.

“We’re talking in Lethbridge alone about millions of dollars a year. Generally speaking, that goes to our researchers and they turn around and pay out in wages to research assistance and to others.”

She explains that the money stays in the economy and it’s needed in cities.

“We need it for agriculture industry, we need it for water management, we need it for our Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience. We certainly need it for a number of the new research-based programs that they’re putting through the college, not just in agriculture but other fields as well.”

Phillips said what is not needed are delays in funding. She said people need to be able to continue to contribute to the economy in southern Alberta without interruption or interference by Smith.

“I don’t know what they’re trying to do, because what they’re trying to do is get in the way of Albertans’ own money being invested here in Alberta, it makes absolutely no sense.”

She said the only way it makes sense is if Smith thinks there is something wrong going on at Lethbridge College in agriculture research, or at the Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience where they are working on solutions to dementia and Alzheimer’s and where funding is being directed for universities and colleges.

“The university’s and college’s researchers, technicians and scientists are working on the most urgent problems of our time and they don’t need more bureaucracy red tape in a process that has worked perfectly fine for the better part of the 20th and the 21st century,” said Phillips.

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