Come hell or high-water, Kenney’s fair-deal fight is our chance
United Conservative Party AGM emcees Rajan Sawhney and Cynthia Moore introduced Alberta Minister of Children Services Rebecca Schulz, who introduced Laureen Harper, who introduced a video, that introduced Premier Jason Kenney for his keynote speech.
But once the “introduception” was over, what a speech it was. Attendees were treated to yet another Jason Kenney barnburner, with one line in particular bringing the capacity crowd to its feet.
“Come hell or high water, Alberta will get a fair deal!”
Unsurprisingly, the 2019 United Conservative Party convention spent a great deal of time focused on a newfound pursuit of a better deal for Alberta within the Confederation of Canada. Since Kenney’s watershed “Firewall” speech at the mid-November Manning Conference, the focus of the United Conservative government has shifted into an all-out drive to wrest power back from Ottawa and put Alberta into the driver’s seat.
Earlier in the day at the Saturday afternoon policy plenaries, a very clear message was sent as federal-provincial affairs were in the convention spotlight.
First item on the agenda: a policy proposal from Calgary-Fish Creek (represented by MLA Richard Gotfried) outlining that Alberta should hold a referendum to “demand and negotiate changes to the wording of the Canadian Constitution under Section 121…”. This was an almost exact match of point 2 of 9 on Project Confederation’s proposal.
The second policy on the agenda? The United Conservative Party will continually advocate for a more equitable federal-provincial transfer system. Both policies passed with strong majorities.
Other issues highlighted in Project Confederation’s Open Letter – collecting our own revenue from personal income tax, creating an Alberta Pension Plan, creating an Alberta Provincial Police, and more – were covered in a separate Fair Deal Plenary Session. All the proposals received almost unanimous support from delegates in an informal vote, and the results will surely send a strong message.
“We’ve had it with the Laurentian elites’ indifference to this adversity,” said Kenney at one point during the conference, later adding “we are demanding a fair deal now for Alberta within Canada.”
Kenney has certainly made it clear that he intends to fight for a fair deal for Alberta. However, his primary commitment so far has been to simply refer these issues them to the “Fair Deal Panel” for review.
In creating this panel, Kenney has opened the door. However, it is still up to us to walk through it.
We have a job to do. We have been given an opportunity to present solid arguments based on fact and crafted with intelligence, to build a case as to how we feel Alberta can flex its political and economic muscles.
The time has come to work together. If we are working in silos we will accomplish much less than what we can accomplish if we collaborate, engage in the process and show a united front to Ottawa.
It’s time to rise to that challenge. If we succeed independence is achievable, whether that be within or without Canada.
“Come hell or high water, Alberta will get a fair deal.”