EDMONTON, AB: Wildrose Leader Brian Jean called on Premier Rachel Notley to move more aggressively to challenge the constitutional status quo on equalization and get a better deal for Alberta through a referendum.
As cited by Dr. Ted Morton of the University of Calgary, a provincial referendum seeking clear support for removing the equalization section from the Constitution would force Ottawa to the negotiating table with Alberta based on previous Supreme Court rulings.
As was done by Peter Lougheed in the challenge of the National Energy Program in the 1980s, Alberta should also launch a reference case with the courts questioning whether the inclusion of non-renewable resource revenues in the equalization formula violates the Constitution.
“Alberta needs to begin standing up for itself in the face of a broken equalization system that isn’t working for our province,” Jean said. “We are fair and compassionate neighbours, but that doesn’t mean Albertans should be seeing billions of their taxes sent to other provinces in both good years and bad. Albertans want to see action and have their voice heard on this critical issue.”
Jean said a referendum could be held at the same time as planned municipal elections next October.
The Equalization Fairness Report commissioned by Wildrose Caucus showed Albertans have sent a staggering average of $24 billion per year to Ottawa that was sent to other provinces. Whether it is EI, CPP, Canada Health and Social Transfers, or the superfluous Equalization program, Alberta’s wealth subsidizes all other provinces in what are largely areas of provincial jurisdiction.
“A clear vote through a referendum would send a clear mandate to not only the provincial government but the federal government on getting Alberta a better deal,” Jean said. “This is an initiative that can have cross-party support in the Legislature and I call on Premier Notley to take up this fight for our province immediately in order to get the federal government’s attention before the upcoming Equalization negotiations. Alberta deserves strong leadership that is on their side.”