Fair Deal Panel Report Analysis

Last month the Alberta Government released the eagerly-anticipated Fair Deal Panel report and the government's responses to the report's recommendations.

Here is our analysis of the Panel's recommendations and the government's responses.

 

 

Introduction

 

After months of consultation, the Fair Deal Panel reported back to the Alberta government last month with their Fair Deal Panel Report.

The Fair Deal Panel Report contains 25 recommendations to the government including many policy recommendations that we had previously advocated for this past October in our "A New Alberta Agenda", and which we proposed to the Fair Deal Panel itself.

The government has provided responses to each of the Fair Deal Panel's recommendations and each of these responses can be categorized in one of four ways:

  1. Recommendations where work is already underway and will continue
  2. Recommendations the government accepts-in-principle and will work to implement immediately
  3. Recommendations where there is support to conduct further analysis
  4. Recommendations that do not completely align with government direction and further analysis and/or modifications are required

We believe that the report, and the government's response, hit the mark on many of our stated policy objectives.

The commitment to hold a referendum on equalization is an essential component of a fair deal, though we will be watching closely the final wording of the question.

It is also excellent news that Albertans will get a say, via additional referenda, on whether Alberta should create an Alberta Police Service and Alberta Pension Plan.

The fact that the government stuck with their commitment to pursue tax point transfers from the federal government to the province, despite the Panel recommending against pursuing this option for now was also very pleasing to see.

The report and government response do fall short in one crucial area, however - representation.

While moving to a model that is based on the "strictest application of the principle of representation" is an admirable goal, what is needed is more than just minor tweaks to Canada's governance model.

As we have said from the beginning, most of the issues Alberta is facing in Confederation are structural issues that relate to how Confederation is put together, and cannot be fixed in the long-term by minor policy tweaks.

Major constitutional changes will be needed in order to make Confederation fair for Alberta and for all other provinces.

Overall, the report and the government's response are a good step forward towards getting a fairer deal for Alberta, but much work still lies ahead of us.

 

 

Analysis

 

We have listed in this post each of the 25 verbatim recommendations from the panel, a summary of the government's response for each recommendation, and our own analysis of each government response:

 


1) Fiscal Stabilization Program


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Press strenuously for the removal of the current constraints on the Fiscal Stabilization Program, which prevent Albertans from receiving a $2.4 billion equalization rebate.

Government Response (summary):

The Government has and will continue to advocate for retroactive changes to the Fiscal Stabilization Program.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that while a one-off rebate via the Fiscal Stabilization Program would be nice for Alberta taxpayers, it would not fix the fundamentally broken equalization system.

In fact, technically, the Fiscal Stabilization Program is completely unrelated to the Equalization program.

The Panel and the government are correct that the current rules of the Fiscal Stabilization Program are unfair to Alberta, but the costs of the inequities in this program are just a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of the inequities inherent in the Equalization program.

Project Confederation agrees that if it is possible to obtain one, Alberta should - of course - take a one-off Fiscal Stabilization rebate from the federal government.

We continue to believe, however, that Equalization must be abolished completely and that a Fiscal Stabilization rebate instead of the removal of Equalization would not represent a fair deal for Albertans.


2) Equalization Referendum


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Proceed with the proposed referendum on equalization, asking a clear question along the lines of: “Do you support the removal of Section 36, which deals with the principle of equalization, from the Constitution Act, 1982?”

Government Response (summary):

The Government will proceed with a referendum on equalization and further work will be done to determine the wording of the question for the referendum, which could be held in conjunction with the 2021 municipal elections.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that Equalization is the single most significant way in which Alberta is financially disadvantaged by Confederation, so we are very pleased to see that the government will proceed with a referendum on this issue.

The wording of the question will be critical, as the referendum must be written in such a way as to qualify as a constitutional referendum.

Constitutional referendums do not change the constitution by themselves, but they do create an obligation on the part of the federal government to come to the negotiating table.

In order to be counted as a constitutional referendum, however, the referendum must propose to actually change a specific part of the Canadian Constitution.

A referendum that simply proposes to change the Equalization formula would not qualify as a constitutional referendum as the Equalization formula is not in the Constitution, only the concept of Equalization is contained in the Constitution.

As Project Confederation has outlined, the referendum must, therefore, be a proposal to remove Equalization from the Canadian Constitution entirely, as this is a clear amendment to the Constitution and so the referendum would qualify as a constitutional referendum.

We will be closely watching to ensure that the wording of the government's referendum is sufficient to qualify as a constitutional referendum.

A referendum that wouldn't qualify as a constitutional referendum would be a waste of Albertan's time and money.


3) Free Trade


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Collaborate with other jurisdictions to reduce trade barriers within Canada and pressure the federal government to enforce free trade in Canada.

Government Response (summary):

The government will continue to push to eliminate trade barriers within Canada by reducing tariffs and other trade barriers within the country.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that free trade is one of the most important elements of gaining a fair deal for Alberta.

Unrestricted free trade across Canada is a constitutional right outlined in Section 121 of the Constitution of Canada.

The Fathers of Confederation were acutely aware of the benefits of unrestricted free trade and its inclusion in the Constitution was very deliberate.

In fact, the promise of free trade was a major factor that led the various provinces to join Canada in 1867 in the first place.

Since 1867, both federal and provincial governments have violated this concept repeatedly.

The restrictive trade barriers now faced by Canadians make it - in some cases - more difficult to move goods and services within Canada than with many international trading partners.

The Alberta government's moves to remove their own interprovincial trade barriers are to be praised, and this work should continue.

More must be done, however, than simply "collaborating" and "applying pressure" to reduce the barriers imposed by the federal government and the other provinces.

Project Confederation has outlined a specific, actionable plan to help resolve this conflict.

We have proposed to 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.

A re-written and clarified Constitution would prevent the federal government, other provinces, and the Courts from using existing loopholes, and finding new loopholes to maintain archaic restrictions on the movement of goods and prevent the construction of infrastructure.

Free Trade was an essential component in helping to build Canada, and it is also essential to maintain national unity.

After all, if we can't even trade freely within our country, what is the point of even being a country?


4) Pipeline Access


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Collaborate with other jurisdictions and other stakeholders to secure cross-border rights of way and create unobstructed corridors within Canada to tidewater and world markets.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue to pursue economic corridors by building relationships with trade partners within the federation and will appoint a government MLA to head up this endeavour.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that a fair deal will be impossible without a resolution to the current impasse on pipelines.

Just as unrestricted free trade across Canada is a constitutional right outlined in Section 121 of the Constitution of Canada, the ability to build pipelines and other infrastructure in order to actually move goods must be permitted.

Alberta fought hard for control of its natural resources in the 1930s, and for the exclusive power to make laws for the exploration, development, conservation, and management of those natural resources in the 1980s.

Both times, the rights were secured by additions to the Canadian Constitution.

Now, however, the federal government routinely ignores these parts of the Constitution, claiming that other considerations, such as water quality or emissions override these protections.

The provincial government's plans to collaborate, and pursue economic corridors are not a bad idea but are in no way sufficient, and unlikely to result in any substantial progress.

As with free trade, Project Confederation has outlined a specific, actionable plan to help resolve this conflict.

We have proposed to 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.

A re-written and clarified Constitution would prevent the federal government, other provinces, and the Courts from using existing loopholes, and finding new loopholes to maintain archaic restrictions on the movement of goods and prevent the construction of infrastructure.

Pipelines are perhaps the most visible element of Alberta's fight with the federal government.

Access to world markets via pipelines, including but not limited to pipelines to tidewater, is as crucial for Alberta as any other element of unrestricted free trade and without new pipelines, a fair deal would be impossible.


5) Northern Development


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Collaborate with other jurisdictions to design and advance regional strategies for northern development; pressure the federal government to implement those strategies.

Government Response (summary):

The Northern Alberta Development Council (NADC) will focus on developing economic corridors.  The Government will also develop a Northern Strategy for Alberta to further develop the corridor concept and build relationships with northern stakeholders.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the general concept of Northern Development, however, we are of the opinion that this is a separate issue from achieving a Fair Deal for Alberta and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


6) House of Commons and Senate Reform


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

a) Support and press for the strictest possible application of the principle of representation by population in the House of Commons. b) Work with other provinces and the federal government to democratize the Senate appointment process.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue with Senatorial elections and will write a strongly-worded letter to the federal government asking for more seats in the House of Commons.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in a Triple-E Senate - a Senate that is elected by the people, has equal representation per province, and has effective powers.

A Senate should, and in many other countries does, provide protection to states and provinces against intrusions into their jurisdiction by a federal government.

An upper house designed to protect the right of provinces, as compared to a lower house designed to protect the rights of the people, is an essential part of a separation of powers that lead to better government for all.

In many ways, the unfair deal that Alberta receives right now is thanks to a weak and unequal Senate.

The current structural design of Canada's senate has permitted a long series of governments to operate without any need to pay heed to the needs of Albertans, and prevented Alberta's representatives from resisting these intrusions.

A Triple-E senate is a fundamental tenet of any fair deal for Alberta because it will help ensure that any improvements made during this campaign are not quickly lost again, and that other rights cannot be taken away unilaterally.

Project Confederation also believes in House of Commons that is representative by population.

A House of Commons is, by definition, meant to represent the people and all Canadians, no matter their province, should have a right to equal representation by population.

Unfortunately, Canada's House of Commons is currently far from representative with some provinces receiving outsized numbers of seats thanks to arcane rules designed to protect smaller provinces.

All provinces should receive seats based purely on their population at each redrawing of the boundaries, not based on political tradeoffs or deals.

With the introduction of a Triple-E Senate, the Senate would offer equal representation to each province, playing its rightful role of protecting the smaller provinces, meaning the House of Commons could actually become representative.

Both the Fair Deal Panel Report's recommendations and the Government's response fall well short of expectations when it comes to Alberta's unfair representation in Ottawa.

A strongly worded letter won't cut it here - Canada needs major Constitutional reforms in order to make our democracy fair again.


7) Civil Service


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Secure a fairer share of federal civil service opportunities and federal offices in Western Canada.

Government Response (summary):

The Government agrees in principle, and will conduct further investigation before implementing this policy objective.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation does not believe that transferring federal offices and federal government jobs to Alberta would be beneficial in achieving a fair deal for Alberta.

We remain focused on transferring constitutional powers to the Alberta government, which would effectively transfer jobs and resources from Ottawa to Alberta but under the control of the provincial government.


8) Federal Courts


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Abolish or at least change the residency requirement for the federal courts.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will immediately begin to advocate for the elimination of the residency requirement for the federal courts.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the general concept of making changes to residency requirements for federal courts, we do not believe this would have a major impact on achieving a Fair Deal for Alberta and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


9) Immigration


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Assert more control over immigration for the economic benefit of Alberta.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will seek a more active role in the setting of immigration numbers and policies with the federal government.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that given the regional dynamics of our economy, having provincial control of immigration will allow for the government to adjust for economic factors in order to create a robust system that will no doubt be a driving force behind the growth of the province into the future.

Alberta should create 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.


10) Environment


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Collaborate with other provinces and industry to advance market-based approaches to environmental protection, including a reduction in GHG emissions.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue to work with other jurisdictions and attempting to balance energy development with environmental needs.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the general concept of Environmental Protection, however, we are of the opinion that this is a separate issue from achieving a Fair Deal for Alberta and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


11) Challenge Federal Legislation


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Continue to challenge federal legislation that affects provincial jurisdiction.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue with numerous court challenges and will continue to fight against all federal intrusions into provincial jurisdictions through legal, intergovernmental, or political mechanisms.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that continuing to challenge unjust laws through Canada's court system is a worthwhile initiative.

This strategy, however, relies on the Supreme Court interpreting the Canadian Constitution in a way that upholds provincial rights.

The Supreme Court, unfortunately, has demonstrated a long history of failing to do this - often going well out of their way to twist meanings, or find loopholes to justify their preference for political reasons.

Ultimately, if the Supreme Court continues to interpret the Constitution in a way that is clearly counter to the original intent, or clear meaning of the Constitution in a way that severely disadvantages Alberta, much stronger action will need to be taken.

Alberta will need to pursue a series of amendments to the Constitution, such as those we have proposed to guarantee free trade, to clarify the meaning of the document and guide future Supreme Court decisions.


12) Provincial Jurisdiction


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Work with other provinces to secure a federal-provincial agreement prohibiting the federal government from spending, taxing, legislating, or treaty making in areas of provincial or joint jurisdiction without the consent of the affected province(s).

Government Response (summary):

The Government will fight for an agreement that restricts federal overreach into provincial affairs.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the general concept of defending Provincial Jurisdiction, however, we believe this point is actually just a more general statement about many of the other points in this document and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


13) Alberta Pension Plan


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

a) Develop a comprehensive plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan and withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan. b) Subsequently, provide Albertans the opportunity, via a referendum, to vote for or against withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and creating the Alberta Pension Plan.

Government Response (summary):

The Government supports the initiative and will conduct further analysis before it is, potentially, implemented.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that Alberta should withdraw from the Canadian Pension Plan and create an Alberta Pension Plan.

Due to Alberta's higher incomes and younger average age, Albertans contribute billions of dollars more into the CPP each year than they receive.

In effect, Albertans are subsidizing, for no reason, the retirements of residents in other provinces.

If Alberta were to switch to an Alberta Pension Plan, Albertans could pay significantly lower contributions while receiving the same benefits, or continue paying the same contributions and receive significantly enhanced benefits or some combination of the two.

Section 94A of the Canadian Constitution gives provinces authority over provincial pensions, meaning that this is one of the few fair deal issues that would not require a change to the Constitution.

This also means that switching to an Alberta Pension Plan is one of the few actions Alberta can take unilaterally to get a fairer deal.

Lower contributions and/or higher benefits means more money in the pocket of Albertans, and - given this action can be taken unilaterally - might also send a wake-up call to the rest of Canada, that Alberta is serious about getting a fairer deal.


14) Alberta Police Service


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Create an Alberta Police Service to replace the RCMP.

Government Response (summary):

The Government supports the initiative and will conduct further analysis before it is, potentially, implemented.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that Alberta should create an Alberta Police Service and allow the RCMP to focus on federal issues.

Given the unique demographics of Alberta, the need for localized decision-making in law enforcement has been amplified in recent years due to the rise in rural crime.

Emphasizing localized decision-making will create a police force that is responsive to local issues, making services more accessible to those who need it most.

Albertans have long felt that RCMP are overextended.

The RCMP is not only required to police rural parts of Canada - some remarkably remote - but is also required to undertake essential work as the federal police force.

By creating a provincial police force, police officers can be specially trained to deal with Alberta-specific problems in a more effective, focused manner.

Rural crime has been a major problem for Albertans over the past few decades, especially as the economy has struggled.

The Mounties, while a famed iconic cultural symbol of Canada, appear to be struggling to provide both protection against federal crimes (such as child trafficking, drug enforcement, or money laundering) while patrolling rural areas with quality policing.

There is a precedent in Alberta for having our own police force in the past, while Alberta also has municipal police forces in Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge.

Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland also all currently have their own police forces.

It’s time for Alberta to take charge of its own destiny and having our own police force is a fundamental way to achieve that.


15) Chief Firearms Officer


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Appoint an Alberta Chief Firearms Officer (CFO).

Government Response (summary):

The Government has already moved ahead in the process of appointing an Alberta Chief Firearms Officer and will write a strongly-worded letter to the federal Minister to commence the negotiation process.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that the Alberta government should immediately appoint a provincial Chief Firearms Officer.

It is important to remember, however, that a provincial Chief Firearms Officer cannot override federal firearms law - their job is focused on licensing and regulator matters.

Alberta would still have no influence in the development, introduction or implementation of federal firearms policy, and would need to pursue other avenues to protect Albertan's rights in these areas.


16) Foreign Policy


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Secure a seat at the table when the federal government negotiates and implements international agreements and treaties affecting Alberta’s interests.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will write a strongly-worded letter to the federal government telling them to give us a seat at international negotiations.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation does not believe involving Alberta in Foreign Policy discussions and negotiations would be beneficial in achieving a fair deal for Alberta.

We remain focused on ensuring that the federal government respects the separation of powers established in the Canadian Constitution and leaves to Alberta those powers delegated to the provinces in Constitution.

Foreign Policy is clearly a federal government responsibility and we believe that trying to interfere in something that is a clear federal government jurisdiction while demanding the federal government stop interfering in provincial government jurisdiction would be counterproductive and damaging to our argument.


17) Alberta In Ottawa


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Strengthen Alberta’s presence in Ottawa.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will open advocacy offices in Ottawa, British Columbia, Quebec.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the general concept of advocating for Alberta's interests across Canada, however, we are not convinced that opening Alberta offices in other provinces would provide any concrete benefits towards achieving a fair deal for Alberta.


18) Cost-Shared Programs


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Opt out of new federal cost-shared programs, subject to Alberta receiving full compensation.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will seek to opt out of any federal agreements that are contrary to the interests of Albertans and seek full compensation.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that Alberta should opt-out of federal cost-shared program.

Project Confederation also believes that exchanging tax points for transfer payments as compensation is the most effective way to achieve consistent qualities of government services (see recommendation 19).


19) Tax Points


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Resist federal intrusions into health and social programming, and do not seek to exchange cash payments for tax points at this time.

Government Response (summary):

The Government supports the resistance of federal intrusions into provincial jurisdiction, however, seeking an exchange of tax points was a platform commitment. As such, the Government will seek a fundamental shift in Canada's transfer system.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation rejects the recommendation by the panel, and strongly supports the government's position to seek a fundamental shift in Canada's transfer program by seeking the exchange of tax points.

This policy is directly designed in order to better deliver services to Albertans by having more control over priority areas, as determined on a provincial level - not a federal level.


20) Economic Diversification


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Continue to diversify Alberta’s economy in the energy sector and beyond.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue to increase Alberta's competitive advantage in key industries, while also empowering other sectors, working diligently with federal counterparts to maximize federal contribution to priority areas.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in market-driven (as opposed to government-driven) Economic Diversification, however, we are of the opinion that this is a separate issue from achieving a Fair Deal for Alberta and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


21) Market Access


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Vigorously pursue access to markets for Alberta’s exports.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will continue to push for the construction of three major pipelines, and will continue to have a large international presence with 12 international offices, including Washington, D.C. and Beijing.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in market access.

Please see our comments on Free Trade and Pipeline Access for more details.


22) Intergovernmental Agreements


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Make no changes, at this time, to the administration of agreements that Alberta public agencies and municipalities have with the Government of Canada.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will not seek changes to the relationships between public agencies and other levels of government, but may revisit the issue in the future.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that this is a separate issue from achieving a Fair Deal for Alberta and so have not taken any specific positions on this point.


23) Tax Collection


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

a) Make no changes to tax collection in Alberta at this time. b) Support Quebec in its bid to collect the federal and provincial portions of personal income taxes and, if Quebec is successful, pursue the same strategy if it is advantageous.

Government Response (summary):

The Government will support Quebec in its bid while conducting further analysis on the topic to determine its feasibility.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that local collection of both provincial and federal taxes would be beneficial for Alberta.

There is no doubt that collecting both provincial and federal taxes in Alberta would be the preferred option as this would ensure that residents would still only have to file a single tax return.

However, if Alberta were only able to collect provincial taxes, for the time being, that doesn't necessarily negate all the benefits.

Alberta already collects provincial business taxes, even though it is not permitted to collect federal business taxes, and no-one has suggested giving this power back to Ottawa.

Alberta businesses (and Quebec residents) have filed two tax returns for years without issue - in fact, the administrative burden has been reduced significantly in recent years with technological advancements.

Both options do come with net financial costs, but the financial element of this proposal is not the only element that should be considered.

Collecting provincial and federal income taxes in Alberta would give Alberta far more flexibility.

Even just collecting provincial income taxes would put Alberta in a better position to negotiate to collect federal income taxes in the future, as Quebec is currently pushing for right now.


24) Citizens Initiated Referenda


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Use democratic tools such as referenda and citizens’ initiatives to seek Albertans’ guidance on selected Fair Deal Panel proposals and other initiatives.

Government Response (summary):

The Government has committed to introducing a Citizen's Initiative Act.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes in the use of democratic tools to seek citizen's guidance on any political initiative.

We think that citizen-initiated referenda strengthen democracy and are beneficial to the pursuit of good government in a province seeking higher orders of autonomy within the federation.

The Fair Deal Panel recommends taking immediate steps to do exactly this.

The provincial government pledged to bring forward legislation to introduce citizen-initiated referenda during the spring session of Alberta's legislature.


25) Alberta Culture


Fair Deal Panel Recommendation (verbatim):

Explore ways and means to affirm Alberta’s cultural, economic and political uniqueness in law and government policy.

Government Response (summary):

The Government accepts the recommendation and will work to affirm Alberta's cultural identity.

Project Confederation Analysis:

Project Confederation believes that Alberta does have a unique culture, however, we do not believe it is the government's role to promote or affirm that culture.


 

Conclusion

 

While the Fair Deal Panel report contains many positive hits, it also contains some misses.

The most glaring deficiency present in the report is a simple logical inconsistency.

The report opines - correctly - that an equalization referendum must be constitutional in nature.

Thus, in order to achieve the intended goal of abolishing equalization, seven provinces with 50 percent of the population must support the initiative.

Parliament must also support the initiative in order for it to be successfully implemented.

The same rule applies to senate reform.

So why argue that equalization abolishment must be a constitutional issue but then argue that senate reform is impossible because it's a constitutional issue?

Why is one easier than the other?

Why not just recommend both?

Unfortunately, the report is also very vague regarding timelines.

Albertans have been demanding immediate action for what feels like an age.

The issues that we were facing before COVID-19 have been heightened in the face of a global pandemic.

How long should it take to get a fair deal? 3 years? 30 years?

In order to successfully get a Fair Deal in Confederation, major changes to the democratic structures of Canada will be required.

If Alberta is going to get a truly fair deal then absolutely every tool at the provincial government's disposal needs to be in play.

All options need to be on the table and we need to move faster.


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  • Gerald Pahl
    commented 2020-10-22 21:29:00 -0600
    I couldn’t have written a better conclusion. These are mostly old ideas that I have heard numerous times during my life. I, and I believe most western Canadians do not want to separate. The problem is that separation seems to be our only lever. It’s clearly the only strategy that’s hits the federal nerve. We have a clear separation discussion happening in western Canada, and I believe we need to use this common, and growing movement to accomplish a fair deal now.