About

Introduction

For far too long, Alberta has been treated unfairly by the rest of Canada.

Alberta makes its presence heard loudly and proudly, but even when it is represented in Ottawa by effective politicians, our influence on federal policy will always be limited.

With a relatively small population, Alberta receives far fewer seats in the House of Commons than other provinces, making us too easy to ignore politically.

Elections are often decided before Alberta’s votes are even counted, and a party can form government without holding any seats in Alberta.

This disconnect is reflected in the way Alberta has been treated and the policies that have been imposed on us, both in the past and by the current federal government.

From the National Energy Program to equalization and transfer payments, and the carbon tax to pipeline blockades, the federal government has taken advantage of Alberta and our economy for decades and has no reason to stop doing so now.

 

The Problem

The problem isn’t so much any one particular government or political party, but a constitutional structure that incentivizes all governments, even supposedly favourable ones, to take advantage of Alberta and our wealth and distribute those resources across the country to help win elections.

The problem is an institutional one, caused by an unfair separation of powers between the federal government and the provinces, leaving smaller provinces like Alberta, unable to respond to challenges and threats to their way of life.

Equalization, Employment Insurance, Health and Social Transfer Programs, and many other federal policies have combined over the years to take hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth out of Alberta and transfer it to other provinces.

Meanwhile, other federal policies work to block the development of the very industries that produce that wealth.

To get an idea of the scale of the disparity, look at just one statistic - tax revenue; Alberta regularly contributes almost 20% of all federal tax revenue, despite making up only slightly more than 10% of Canada’s population.

In 2016, Alberta sent $49 billion in taxes to Ottawa but only $21.8 billion of federal spending came back to Alberta – that’s more than $6,200 per Albertan spent elsewhere.

A disproportionate share of these fiscal transfers end up in Quebec, where their provincial government uses the money to provide more and cheaper services to their residents than are available to Albertans who are paying the bill.

 

The Strategy

These complaints aren’t new – for years Albertans have had a general feeling of being treated unfairly and countless attempts have been made to remedy the situation, including through the political system.

While the political approach made some progress, in many ways it failed to achieve meaningful, long-lasting structural reform as it inevitably required adherence to the day-to-day eccentricities of politics.

Recent events suggest the time is right for another attempt to make significant reforms to the Canadian political system, and this time we intend to make lasting changes.

We believe that in order for long-lasting structural changes to be made, we need not just a political effort but a grassroots movement that works to change the entire political discourse of this country.

A series of referenda and Senate elections are scheduled for October 2021 in Alberta.

This will present a unique opportunity to talk about these issues with Albertans and all Canadians.

We need a positive vision for Canada that promotes prosperity and fairness and can strengthen national unity by re-balancing the relationship between the federal government and the provinces.

As we have shown, the problem is not caused by any specific government or policy, but by institutional structures that create bad incentives, even for good governments.

Therefore, we believe there are three key reforms to the Canadian constitution that should be pursued that will re-balance Confederation and provide the kind of long-term, long-lasting improved public policy outcomes not just for Alberta but for all Canadians.

 

The Solution

We believe that in order for long-lasting structural changes to be made, we need not just a political effort but a grassroots movement that works to change the entire political discourse of this country.

If we can speak directly to Canadians, spark debate on these important constitutional issues, and ultimately change the kinds of policies that voters are demanding, then political parties will be forced to follow.

This is a problem that can be solved.

Reforming the Canadian constitution is not a discussion that should be taken lightly, but it is not good enough to just complain anymore.

The current system of confederation is not set in stone, it is a system that is designed to be changed when necessary, and clearly, this is now necessary.

It’s time for a new movement to take action to achieve a better deal for Alberta within the Confederation of Canada.

Project Confederation's mission is to do just that.