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Good morning. Wendy Cox in Vancouver this morning.

This week, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith once again introduced legislation squarely aimed at picking a fight with Ottawa. This time, though, the proposed bill she has dubbed the stay-out-of-my-backyard bill could do as much to bite some of those actually living in her backyard as it will to bring Ottawa to heel.

Alberta was among several provinces irritated last month when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a multibillion-dollar fund to pay for infrastructure needed to build new housing. He said the federal government would negotiate directly with municipalities if provinces objected to Ottawa’s funding conditions, such as eliminating single-family zoning.

Alberta bristled at the perceived intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. Smith argued the federal Liberals are “manipulating municipalities” into rewriting their bylaws in exchange for federal support.

Her response this week was the bill that would give her province the power to declare funding deals between Ottawa and its municipalities and other entities – including universities, school boards, housing agencies and health authorities – invalid unless Alberta approves of the arrangement.

Smith told reporters the province has authority over municipalities such as Calgary and Edmonton.

Calgary’s mayor, Jyoti Gondek, said the next day her city would continue to work with Ottawa anyway. The Alberta legislation doesn’t outline the penalties for those who continue to do so and Calgary, Gondek said, wants the money.

“There’s money on the table right now,” Gondek said.

Calgary provided Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver with details about 64 agreements it has with the federal government on Jan. 31, city spokeswoman Kaila Lagran said. The deals are worth a collective $435-million, she said.

If there are consequences – and so far, the Alberta government has said nothing about what those might be – McIver told CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener that refusenik cities “kind of asked for this.”

Calgary should have been “wise enough” to invite the province to the table when it was trying to cut a deal with the federal government on housing.

“They didn’t invite us, so this is a natural outcome of the choice that they made to not invite the province into the conversation, knowing that they operate exclusively under provincial jurisdiction,” McIver said.

“Having said that, we’re going to do everything we can to not make it a problem for the city.”

Tyler Gandam, president of Alberta Municipalities, said in a statement the provincial government has moved from its original position that it only wants to ensure Alberta receives its fair share of federal funding to now introducing legislation that requires federal funds to align with provincial priorities.

“Albertans are tired and frustrated with all the inter-jurisdictional squabbling between the provincial and federal governments at a time when communities are facing numerous serious issues – things like inadequate local infrastructure funding, a shortage of affordable housing, sharp increases to cost of living, and a health care crisis,” he said.

Smith offered another example of federal money being directed to places that may not necessarily align with provincial goals: money for scientific research.

In 2022-23, Alberta received $42.7-million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the federal research-funding agency.

Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney told reporters Thursday that the province isn’t trying to impede academic freedom.

“We want to make sure that this funding does align with provincial priorities,” Sawhney said. But she added, “I can’t think of a single grant stream that’s going to the post-secondaries that would be problematic.”

But on X, formerly Twitter, Sawheny noted that “every year, the federal government sends hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to Alberta post-secondary institutes. Albertans have a right to know exactly what these grants are and what they are funding.”

She said the Provincial Priorities Act will give her government the ability to collect that information.

On Friday, Trudeau said his government will continue to invest in housing, noting that he was criticized months ago for saying, accurately, that housing is largely a provincial responsibility.

“Over the following weeks and months, we heard from a cavalcade of premiers saying, ‘See. The federal government needs to step up more, needs to do more. It’s trying to get out of the business of housing. The federal government needs to step up and fix this housing crisis,’” Trudeau said.

“So we are. The provinces should be careful what they wish for.”

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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