Time For A Saskatchewan Equalization Vote
Last year, Project Confederation was among a group of prominent signatories of a letter directed to Premier Scott Moe and Premier Jason Kenney.
In that letter, we urged the Premiers that "it is your duty to start taking steps towards a fair confederation immediately."
In the year and a bit since then, another federal election has come and gone - yielding nearly identical results to the previous election - but there has been no significant progress made towards obtaining fairness for Saskatchewan.
In fact, our great province of Saskatchewan has been largely ignored (or attacked) by political interests in Ottawa and eastern Canada.
While there are many challenges with the way that Confederation functions at the moment, the biggest issue is the federal equalization program.
The program was originally designed to help provinces that are struggling financially to fix their economies and get back on their feet.
In fact, Saskatchewan has benefited from this program in the past - a fact we don't dispute.
Equalization helped the Saskatchewan government, and Saskatchewanians, while our province suffered from the economic effects of decades of poor public policy that led us to be a "have-not" province.
Unfortunately, however, the program has since evolved into a behemoth that grows every year and has the opposite effect to what was originally intended.
Now, instead of supporting provinces to fix their policies, grow their economies, and ultimately become "have" provinces, the program now actively incentivizes provinces to maintain bad public policies, and to stay as "have-not" provinces, because that means the rest of the country will keep subsidizing them!
Premier Moe has called equalization an "incredibly inequitable and flawed program" but instead of working with us to address these issues, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government have taken the opportunity to aggravate the situation and make things worse.
It has now been years since Saskatchewan has qualified for any payments from equalization.
Again, as Premier Moe said, "our taxpayers continue to pay for programs and services in other provinces, even when those other provinces’ economies are strong."
Saskatchewan has tried being diplomatic in the past, but this diplomacy has been ignored by Ottawa.
We can't afford to be ignored anymore.
Western alienation is real, and a lot of the frustration is derived from the growing perception that the rest of Canada benefits from the generosity of Saskatchewan while attacking the very industries that provide the money that funds that generosity!
Saskatchewan taxpayers contribute a net $580 million to the federal equalization program every year, while Quebec alone collects $13 billion.
This doesn't even include other federal transfer system discrepancies – which drive that total much higher.
Since 2015, Quebec has collected over $70 billion in equalization payments, while openly opposing a wide array of economic projects essential for our economic interests.
In Alberta, after significant pressure from Project Confederation and other allied groups, the provincial government announced they would be holding a provincial referendum to remove equalization from the Constitution.
Last month, 62% of Albertans voted "yes" on the following question:
“Should Section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 – Parliament and the government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments – be removed from the Constitution?”
This result will kickstart constitutional negotiations to reform the confederation into one that is fair to all provinces.
Premier Moe has said the Saskatchewan government will participate in these negotiations.
But that's not enough.
It's time to let all Saskatchewanians have their say.
A clear majority of Saskatchewanians voting "yes" on a clear question to remove equalization from the constitution will provide the Saskatchewan government with a stronger mandate in any negotiations, provide backup for our friends in Alberta, and help force the federal government to the table should they prove reluctant to do so.
It's time to send a message to Ottawa that Saskatchewan is not going to accept the uneven terms of this Confederation anymore.
The Constitution was designed in such a way that all provinces were equal partners, but equalization has ensured that some provinces are more equal than others.
It’s time for Saskatchewan to have a voice, and to vote to remove the principle of equalization from the Constitution of Canada.
It's time to vote "yes" to end equalization.
If you agree, please sign this petition to Premier Moe, asking him to hold a referendum to end equalization.
Showing 695 comments