A New Alberta Agenda
In November 2000, an incredibly divisive federal election resulted in the re-election of the Chrétien Liberal government.
In the aftermath of that result, a group of prominent Albertans wrote a letter to Premier Klein proposing a series of policies to take back power from an overbearing federal government.
The October 2019 federal election result has again left Albertans feeling dejected and dismayed, but in many ways, Alberta's situation is more dire than it was in 2000.
It's time to fight for a new deal for Alberta and this time it's up to all of us to play our part.
Please help show Premier Kenney that you support him pursuing A New Alberta Agenda by signing this public letter and passing it on to your friends.
We will deliver a copy of the letter, along with all the signatures, to Premier Kenney.
An Open Letter To Premier Kenney
Dear Premier Kenney,
During and since the recent federal election, we have been among a large number of Albertans discussing the future of our province.
In our view, the Trudeau government undertook a series of attacks not merely designed to defeat its partisan opponents, but to marginalize Alberta and Albertans within Canada's political system.
One well-documented incident was the Prime Minister's attack against Alberta's energy sector during the French-language debate.
Alberta's economy has been struggling for years, hundreds of thousands of Albertans are out of work or underemployed, businesses are closing, and capital is fleeing at an astonishing pace.
Instead of helping Alberta address these challenges, Ottawa has taken the opportunity to aggravate the situation and only made things worse.
Taxes and regulations have wrecked our economy, while radical environmental regulations threaten to prevent any possible recovery by shutting down our resource industry - an explicitly stated goal of our Prime Minister.
Many held out hope that the federal election would solve Alberta's problems, and given the result, they now see separation from Canada as the only remaining solution.
Their frustrations are entirely valid, but why should we be the ones forced out of Confederation?
Alberta has been an essential part of Confederation for 114 years.
Alberta has contributed resources, ideas, jobs, and, yes, hundreds of billions of dollars to Confederation and all we ask in return is to be allowed to continue doing so.
Yet, if Ottawa remains unwilling to listen to Alberta's plea, then separatist sentiment will grow even further.
Before Albertans take that step, however, we owe it to those who came before us, who have worked so hard to build Canada, to first provide an alternative to breaking up our country.
It's time to fight for a new vision of Canada where regional differences are respected, where different provinces are allowed to try different policies, and where Albertans have the freedom to choose our own destiny.
Mr. Premier, we are grateful that you have vehemently protested the unprecedented attacks that the federal government has launched against Alberta's economy in recent years.
However, while your protest was necessary and appreciated by Albertans, it is not enough.
If the government in Ottawa concludes that Alberta is a soft target, we will be subjected to much worse.
It is time for Albertans to boldly stand up for our own future and seek, as much as possible, to be the masters of our own destiny.
This means resuming control of the powers that we possess under the Constitution of Canada but which we have allowed the federal government to exercise for too long.
Poised and purposeful use of these powers will help Alberta build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future in spite of a government in Ottawa that has never been more hostile to our values and interests.
Mr. Premier, it is critical for you to take all possible political and legal measures to reduce the financial raid of Alberta perpetuated by Canada's tax-and-transfer system.
The most recent estimates are that Albertans transfer $5200 per capita annually to other Canadians, for a total outflow from our province approaching $22 billion a year and $600 billion over the last 60 years.
The same federal politicians who wish to shut down Alberta's key industries have no compunction about appropriating our Canadian dollars, generated by those industries, to buy votes elsewhere in the country.
Under the heading of "A New Alberta Agenda," we propose that our province move forward on the following fronts:
- Hold an immediate referendum to abolish Canada's Equalization program. You have already committed to holding such a referendum in 2021, but this must now be done as soon as possible to force Ottawa to the bargaining table.
- Hold an immediate referendum to clarify Section 92 and Section 121 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867 to make clear that Canadians have a right to unrestricted free trade across provincial borders for goods, services, and infrastructure such as pipelines.
- Hold an immediate referendum to reform the Senate of Canada to be a Triple-E senate - equal, elected, and effective. You have already committed to restoring senatorial elections - now is the time to drive the issue further.
- Collect our own revenue from personal income tax, as we already do for corporate income tax. Any incremental cost of collecting our own personal income tax would be far outweighed by the policy flexibility that Alberta would gain, as Quebec's experience has shown.
- Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan offering the same benefits at a lower cost while giving Alberta control, as Quebec has done from the beginning. If Quebec can do it, why not Alberta?
- Withdraw from the Canadian Employment Insurance program to create an Alberta Employment Insurance program offering the same benefits at a lower cost while giving Alberta control.
- Allow the contract with the RCMP to run out in 2032 (or negotiate an earlier exit if possible) and create (or convert the Alberta Sheriff's branch into) an Alberta Provincial Police Force. Alberta can, like Ontario and Quebec, operate its own provincial police force and can do so more efficiently and more effectively than Ottawa ever could.
- Establish an independent Alberta immigration system to replace the federal government's existing system, as exists in Quebec. This would allow Alberta to implement a privately-sponsored immigration system that has been repeatedly proven to be more effective and can more easily be tailored to Alberta's labour-force needs.
- Resume provincial responsibility for healthcare, social policy, and infrastructure paid for by replacing the Canada Health Transfer, Canada Social Transfer, and various Infrastructure Transfers with a transfer of tax points, as Quebec has argued for many years.
Mr. Premier, we acknowledge the bold and ambitious reforms that your government is implementing – balancing the budget, paying down the provincial debt, privatizing government services, getting Albertans back to work, restoring a single-rate tax, reducing business taxes, ending corporate welfare, and many other beneficial changes.
But Alberta must fight on multiple fronts in order to secure its future.
The government in Ottawa will always be tempted to take advantage of Alberta's prosperity, to redistribute income from Alberta to residents of other provinces in order to keep itself in power.
It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.
If we succeed, we may rescue a Confederation which has never been so divided.
Then, once Alberta's position is secured, only our imagination will limit the prospects for our great province.
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