Kenney returns fire following Quebec Premier’s comments
Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney wants to set Quebec straight on equalization payments.
“Quebec Premier François Legault’s comments reflect a misunderstanding of the history of equalization, and Alberta’s demand for fairness in the federation,” states Kenney. “Equalization has not ‘been in the Constitution since Day One of Canada.’ The principle of equalization was included for the first time in the 1982 Constitution Act, which Quebec refused to sign.
“It is historically inaccurate to say that ‘When Quebec got into Canada, equalization was in the plan. It is part of the original deal. We can’t change the original deal.’”
In fact, equalization began as a unilateral federal program in 1957, and has undergone many significant changes since then.
Kenney went on to say that it is also“completely false to suggest, as Premier Legault does, that I am ‘starting to become separatist.’ As I have said repeatedly, I always have been and always will be a proud Canadian patriot and a federalist, without condition. It was at my urging that the merger agreement creating the United Conservative Party included ‘loyalty to a united Canada’ as a founding principle. For me, that loyalty is non-negotiable.”
Albertans have made a net contribution of over $620 billion to the rest of the federation through their federal taxes since 1957, and make a net contribution of approximately $20 billion to fiscal federalism each year.
“I have also been clear that most Albertans are proud to have shared much of our province’s good fortune with other Canadians, and that we do not object to equalization in principle. However, we cannot abide other governments benefiting enormously from our resources while trying to obstruct the development and sale of those resources,” continues Kenney.“Nor is it acceptable that other provinces benefit from equalization payments generated in part from our energy resources while refusing to develop their own energy resources.”
Kenney says that a fair deal in the federation simply means this: If Ottawa and other provinces want to benefit from Alberta’s resources, then they must not oppose the transport and sale of those resources.
“To put it more bluntly: If you want to benefit from our oil and gas wealth, stop blocking oil and gas pipelines,” he says.“As I said at the Council of the Federation last month, ‘If you aren’t willing to accept our resources, why are you willing to accept the money that comes from them?’”
Kenney has committed to holding a referendum on Section 36 of the Constitution Act – the principle of equalization – if there is no substantial progress on coastal pipelines and a repeal of devastating policies like Bill C-69.