Big changes could be on their way for Alberta following the creation of a “Fair Deal Panel.”
The panel was created with the intention of discussing ways that Alberta could gain leverage with the federal government, including creating provincial organizations and services to replace federal agencies currently at work within Alberta.
The panel is expected to consider measures including ending the Canada-Alberta Tax Collection Agreement and replacing it with a provincial revenue agency, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and creating an Alberta Pension Plan, establishing a provincial police force, emulating Quebec practices and laws regarding treaty negotiations, and requiring provincial approval for public bodies (schools, municipalities, etc.) before they can enter into negotiations with the federal government, appointing a Chief Firearms Office for Alberta, and establishing a formalized provincial constitution, among others.
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“Alberta has been by far the biggest contributing province to Canada in recent decades, and a huge engine for jobs and growth. But governments that have profited from our resources, hard work, and generosity now seem determined to pin us down and block us in,” Premier Jason Kenney said in the release.
“Albertans aren’t asking for a special deal. We’re just asking for a fair deal. And our government will do everything within our power to get it.”
Kenney also stated that he would be introducing a Citizen’s Initiative Act “to give Albertans the power to petition for referenda on matters of widespread public concern.”
The release noted that whatever leverage Alberta may gain from the proposed actions would be, first-and-foremost, channelled towards “obtaining firm guarantees on construction and completion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, including clear willingness to ensure that the rule of law is respected and applied.”
The panel includes Preston Manning, Stephen Lougheed, Oryssia Lennie, Jason Goodstriker, Donna Kennedy-Glans, Moin Yahya, Drew Barnes, Miranda Rosin, and Tany Yaa, and is expected to speak with experts, host town halls across the province, and receive feedback from online surveys.
The public consultations will be conducted between November 16 and January 30, 2020, according to the release, and a report to the government is expected to be completed by March 31, 2020.
Opposition leader Rachel Notley called Kenney out in a statement released the same day as the premier’s announcement, stating that he was “stoking the fires of western alienation in order to advance his own political objectives,” and that none of what was proposed was included in his campaign platform.
“Instead of getting to work on the priorities of Albertans; getting the pipeline built, growing our economy, and creating jobs, he is exploiting the real frustrations of everyday Albertans by sowing the seeds of separation with tired ideas from decades ago,” Notley said.
“Alberta is part of Canada, and Jason Kenney needs to accept that.”
Today’s remarks by @jkenney are dangerous. He is intentionally stoking the fires of separation. He did not campaign on any of these issues. This is all to distract from his disastrous budget and failure to create jobs and grow our economy. See my full statement below #ableg pic.twitter.com/ytfiJjOBR0
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) November 10, 2019