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Speaking to the Manning Centre “What’s Next?” Conference, Kenney said that Albertans are expressing unprecedented levels of frustration with the federal government and the barriers being placed in the way of Alberta’s economy.
The Premier outlined initiatives already taken by the government to stand up for Alberta, steps that it will take in the months to come, and a number of deeper reforms that it will consult on through the Fair Deal Panel.
“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.
“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.”
Actions to defend province’s interests announced
In his speech to the Manning Centre, Premier Kenney announced that the Government of Alberta will:
- open offices in Ottawa, Quebec, and British Columbia to defend the province’s interests
- strengthen its democratic reform agenda by introducing a Citizen’s Initiative Act to give Albertans the power to petition for referenda on matters of widespread public concern
- act to fulfill platform commitments (see below) that strengthen Alberta’s position within Canada
“The Citizen’s Initiative Act will give Albertans the power to hold this and future governments to account if we do not keep our commitment to stand up for Alberta.”
The Citizen’s Initiative Act will be based on the 1991 British Columbia Recall and Initiative Act.
Fair Deal Panel mandate and membership announced
Premier Kenney also announced the launch of the Fair Deal Panel to consult Albertans on how best to define and to secure a fair deal for Alberta. The panel will also look at how best to advance the province’s vital economic interests, such as the construction of energy pipelines.
Specifically, the panel will consider whether the following measures would advance the province’s interests:
- Establishing a provincial revenue agency to collect provincial taxes directly by ending the Canada-Alberta Tax Collection Agreement, while joining Quebec in seeking an agreement to collect federal taxes within the province.
- Creating an Alberta Pension Plan by withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan.
- Establishing a provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada.
- Emulating Quebec’s practice of playing a larger role in international relations, in part by seeking Alberta representation in treaty negotiations that effect Alberta’s interests.
- Emulating Quebec’s legal requirement that public bodies, including municipalities and school boards, obtain the approval of the provincial government before they can enter into agreements with the federal government.
- Using the existing provincial power to appoint the Chief Firearms Office for Alberta.
- Opting out of federal cost share programs with full compensation, such as the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program.
- Seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfers under the Canada Health and Social Transfers.
- Establishing a formalized provincial constitution.
The Fair Deal Panel will consist of the following members:
- Honourable Preston Manning PC CC AOE
- Stephen Lougheed
- Oryssia Lennie CM
- Jason Goodstriker
- Donna Kennedy-Glans QC
- Moin Yahya PhD JD
- Drew Barnes MLA
- Miranda Rosin MLA
- Tany Yao MLA
The panel will consult with experts, hold open town hall meetings across the province and undertake research to inform their recommendations.
All Albertans will be given an opportunity to provide input through online surveys, and other forms of direct feedback, both digital and traditional.
The panel will seek to conduct its public consultations between November 16 and January 30, 2020, and complete its report to the government by March 31, 2020.
The panel’s mandate can be found on Alberta.ca
Premier defines urgent priorities
Premier Kenney stressed that in dealing with the federal government and provincial allies, Alberta will clearly prioritize several issues with huge implications for jobs and the economy, including:
- 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. All of Alberta’s leverage will be focused on this goal.
- Approval of flow through shares, or other tax instruments, to increase job-creating investment in environmental technology such as carbon capture utilization and storage that will accelerate the reduction of GHG emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector.
- Funding for the creation of green jobs by accelerating reclamation of abandoned wells.
- Clear support for future liquified natural gas projects that will significantly reduce global GHG emissions by accelerating coal to gas conversion in the developing world.
- Repeal of Bill C-48, and repeal or at least significant mitigation of Bill C-69
- Establishing equivalency agreements for Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program, and methane regulations.
- Accelerated federal approval of outstanding job creating projects, like the Teck Resources Frontier Mine and TransAlta natural gas pipelines to convert coal fired plants to natural gas.
- Retroactive lifting of the Fiscal Stabilization Program cap to 2014-15 as a $1.73-billion partial rebate on equalization
Actions taken to date
Since being sworn in six months ago, the government has kept its word to stand up for Alberta with concrete actions, including:
- The immediate proclamation of the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act (Bill 12), giving Alberta the ability to restrict the export of crude oil, natural gas and refined fuels
- Successfully pressing the Senate Transportation Committee to vote against the adoption of the Bill C-48 tanker moratorium
- Successfully pressing the Senate to adopt 187 amendments (including all of those proposed by the Government of Alberta) to Bill C-69, the so-called ‘no more pipelines’ legislation
- Securing opposition to Bill C-69 from nine of ten provincial governments
- Challenging the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax by supporting Saskatchewan and Ontario in their carbon tax appeals, and by filing an application for a judicial reference on the federal carbon tax at the Alberta Court of Appeal
- Securing support from nine of ten provincial governments for energy and resource corridors, including oil and gas pipelines
- Creating the Indigenous Litigation Fund to support First Nations defending their right to economic development, including through resource projects
- Launching Commissioner Allen’s public inquiry into the funding sources behind the campaign to landlock Alberta energy
- Passing into law the Senate Election Act, which reinstates the right of Albertans to select their nominees to the Senate
- Launching the Canadian Energy Centre that will coordinate the fight back strategy for Alberta’s energy industry, supported by a $30 million budget
- Creating the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, backed by up to $1 billion to support Indigenous financial participation in major resource projects
- Hosting the Stampede Premiers Meeting to consolidate support for resource industries, including pipelines
- Pressing the federal government to exempt Alberta from the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation stress test
Platform commitments to be fulfilled
The government will act to fulfill platform commitments to:
- Demand reforms to the equalization formula, in part to exclude non-renewable resource revenues from the calculation, and to impose a hard cap on equalization transfers
- Hold a referendum on removing equalization from the Constitution Act if substantial progress is not made on construction of a coastal pipeline, and if Bill C-69 is not repealed or substantially amended
- Insist that the Fiscal Stabilization Program cap be lifted retroactively to 2014/15 as a form of equalization rebate for Alberta, following four years of economic decline and stagnation
- Hold a referendum on an amendment to the Constitution to entrench property rights
- Hold elections for Alberta’s nominees to the Senate of Canada, further to the recently renewed Senate Election Act
- Call for the appointment of Mike Shaikh (nominated in the 2012 Alberta Senate election) to the next Alberta Senate vacancy
- Press for a Charter of Economic Rights to strengthen the economic union by eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, and strengthening federal paramountcy over inter provincial infrastructure, such as pipelines
- Pass legislation to create an Alberta Parole Board to take over responsibility for provincial inmates from the Parole Board of Canada
- Demand reforms to the Employment Insurance program to make it more fair to Alberta workers, who continue to subsidize unemployed beneficiaries in other parts of Canada, even though Alberta’s unemployment rate has been above the national average for four years
- Continue advocating for the federal government to convert the Canada Health and Social Transfers to tax points to give Alberta more control over how revenue is raised and spent within areas of provincial jurisdiction