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Josh Andrus - Project Confederation

Alberta’s Project Confederation says Trudeau government proposing constitutional attack


7 minute read

Article submitted by Project Confederation

Has Ottawa gone completely crazy?

We told you it was coming.

The Liberals are, once again, thinking about nationalizing the natural resources sector.

How do we know?

They said so themselves!

If you’re not shocked, join the club.

Most farmers remember, with disdain, the Canadian Wheat Board – which forced them to sell their product to eastern Canada at below-market prices.

Many western Canadians remember, with even more disdain, the National Energy Program that completely destroyed the energy industry in Alberta and undermined national unity for decades.

Western Canadians have had an axe to grind with Ottawa for decades, and for good reason.

We are all very familiar with the efforts of the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal government to completely dismantle the energy industry, no matter the cost to our wallets, or our national unity.

It started with a simple “revenue-neutral” carbon tax that was supposed to suffocate the energy industry until it is completely taxed out of business.

Then, Ottawa created a series of new, complicated environmental regulations that seem to shift on a whim whenever energy companies come close to complying.

These regulations had the desired effect of killing any major infrastructure projects – like pipelines and mines.

After all, why would any company invest in a major project if the rules are going to change with the direction of the wind?

To make matters worse, the federal government bought a pipeline in the middle of a major expansion, slow-rolled its construction, and watched as the costs ballooned from $7 billion of taxpayer money in 2018 to over $30 billion last month.

(The Trans Mountain Expansion Project STILL isn’t finished, by the way.)

Ottawa followed that up by introducing the “Impact Assessment Act,” which gives them regulatory control over pretty much any project in any province, whether it crosses provincial borders or not.

And, if that wasn’t enough, earlier this year, they announced the “Just Transition,” a series of policies literally designed to legislate the well-paying jobs of the entire energy industry out of existence.

So, if you think what I’m about to say is crazy, just keep all of the above in mind.

Here it comes.

Just the other day, the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, floated the idea of rescinding the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements.

The Natural Resource Transfer Agreements are the agreements that gave Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba control over their natural resources, but they only came about after a hard fight by the West to be treated equally to all the other provinces, who already had those same rights to their natural resources.

Rescinding the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements would effectively nationalize natural resources in the western provinces, despite it now being a core part of the Canadian constitution that the provinces control these resources.

It would also re-create the preposterous position where eastern provinces own their resources while western provinces don’t!

So, given all the above, you’d like to think that if the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was asked about doing this, it would be pretty easy for him to just say no, right?

Instead, Lametti committed to looking at it!

Now, to be fair, committing to look at something isn’t the same as committing to doing something.

But why is he even willing to do that?

It would be unfair to the West, it would be unequal across the provinces, and it would be unconstitutional, so it should be a simple no.

It’s crazy to even contemplate the federal government violating the Constitution so blatantly – it would be a flashpoint for a Constitutional showdown that would make Quebec separation look like nothing.

Lametti himself even admitted that what he was saying was controversial – so it’s not like he can feign ignorance, or pretend that’s not what he meant.

So, again, why wasn’t it just a no?

Premiers Danielle Smith, Scott Moe, and Heather Stefanson issued a joint statement opposing the comments, in which they said:


“The federal government cannot unilaterally change the Constitution. It should not even be considering stripping resource rights away from the three Prairie provinces.

“The Prime Minister needs to immediately retract these dangerous and divisive comments by the Justice Minister.”


There has been no retraction, only a “clarification” from Lametti that he wasn’t committing to doing it, only committing to look at it.

Wait, what?

That’s literally the problem!

No one complained that he committed to doing it; we complained that he committed to look at it!

Thanks so much for “clarifying” that the government is not, at this time, committing to completely ignore the Constitution and strip natural resource jurisdiction from the western provinces.

Thanks so much for only committing to look into potentially doing it at a later date.

This all sounds crazy, I know.

I can’t believe I’m writing about it, either.

But, hey, eight years ago, the concept of a “Just Transition” was so far-fetched that only the Alberta NDP was talking about it.

All I’m saying is that, in 2023, Canada’s Attorney General committed to look at nationalizing all natural resources.

On the record.

That’s crazy, right?

If you want to help us make sure this remains nothing more than a crazy idea, please consider making a donation to fund our research, advocacy, communications, events, and activism:

We need every Canadian to understand what is at stake with a federal government that wants to violate the Constitution at every turn.


Josh Andrus
Executive Director
Project Confederation

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Alberta NDP have their own Just Transition plan – Project Confederation

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From Josh Andrus, Executive Director of Project Confederation

Look what we discovered about the “Just Transition”…

You might remember, not so long ago, that federal Natural Resources Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the federal Liberal government would soon be rolling out its plan for a “Just Transition.”

This is the “Just Transition” plan that the federal NDP insisted be included in the “confidence and supply agreement” that is currently propping up Justin Trudeau’s minority government.

Then, an internal government memo was made public, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in this “transition” – particularly in western Canada.

Project Confederation immediately sprung to action, investigating the proposed policies and launching a petition against the plan, which has now received more than 13,000 signatures.

(If you haven’t signed the petition yet, you can do so here)

As news spread, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe spoke out strongly against the plan.

But one politician was suspiciously quiet – the Alberta NDP leader, Rachel Notley.

We thought Albertans, and Canadians, deserved to know whether someone running to be Premier of Alberta supported the shutting down of Alberta and western Canada’s largest industry.

And so we pushed hard for Rachel Notley to answer the question – does she support the “Just Transition” idea?

But, as time went on, Notley’s silence became more and more deafening.

Eventually, her silence became so deafening that even some in the media began to question whether or not she truly disagreed with the plan.

Hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks – literally!

Two full weeks after Wilkinson’s announcement, Rachel Notley finally broke her silence, calling on Ottawa to “put the brakes on” the “Just Transition”.

But, “put the brakes on” sounded a lot more like “wait until after the Alberta election” than “ditch it entirely” to us.

So we decided to do some more digging.

Well, after some excellent work by our research team, we think we now know why it took so long for Rachel Notley to oppose the “Just Transition.”

It turns out that, rather than just being some federal NDP idea that she’s now distanced her provincial party from, the “Just Transition” was actually a huge part of her NDP government’s plans.

Insert flashback music here.

It’s November 2015, the newly minted NDP government are celebrating a big election win, and are moving forward with their climate change strategy.

(You know, the one they accidentally forgot to mention that they were going to implement if they won).

New Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, commissions a blue-ribbon report by a team of high-profile academics, to help the NDP figure out exactly how to fulfil their campaign promise (sorry, their campaign omission).

Several months later, the “Climate Leadership Report” is released, setting out the government’s vision for climate policy and – guess what?

The “Just Transition” is a key part of the NDP’s Climate Leadership Report!

Yep, that’s right – forget not knowing what the “Just Transition” is, and claiming not to support the federal government’s plan.

In reality, it was Rachel Notley’s government who wrote the policy in the first place, and then made it a critical part of their entire environmental policy agenda.

Here are some extracts from the report…

In a section discussing mitigating the impacts of carbon pricing on low- and middle-income Albertans, the NDP said they would “support a sound and just transition for labour and communities…”

Later in the report, the authors highlight a quote from their friends at the Alberta Federation of Labour.

This quote is really just one gigantic contradiction, given the government is literally legislating their employment out of existence:

Next, the report talks about what the workers who lose their jobs might need to do as part of this “transition” – it notes that they may need assistance with “relocation”:

Oh, sorry, did the government legislate away your job?

Not to worry, we’ll “fix” it for you by helping you walk away from your entire life and move somewhere else.

Remember how Rachel Notley said Albertans might have to move to BC to find work while she was Premier?

Yeah, we’d prefer Albertans could find work here in Alberta, thanks.


Here’s the thing…

Not only did the Alberta NDP support the concept of a federal “Just Transition” when they were in government, they were also actively implementing their own “Just Transition” – 8 years earlier than the federal government!

And yet now they claim to not support the idea at all?

No wonder it took so long for Rachel Notley to answer the question.

She was probably just surprised that no one in the media had dug up her own support of “Just Transition” legislation from years before, and was wondering if she could get away with pretending she hadn’t.

Well, we’re not surprised no one in the media bothered looking.

But, we did look, and thank goodness we did!

Thank you to our researchers who dug up this document, which I’m sure the NDP would have preferred we’d not found.

If you’d like to help us do even more research like this, please click here to make a donation to our work.

Otherwise, if you haven’t signed the No Unjust Transition petition yet, please click here to do so now.

Rachel Notley’s claim to now be opposed to the exact thing that she herself implemented is not credible.

She can run from it, but she can’t hide.

Her environmental policies put Alberta into one of its deepest recessions ever.

And we can’t afford to repeat those mistakes.


Josh Andrus
Executive Director
Project Confederation

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Josh Andrus - Project Confederation

$420 Million equalization payment to Ontario goes too far – Project Confederation calling for Constitutional Convention

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Submitted by Josh Andrus of Project Confederation

Confederation is rigged against Alberta.

It’s never really been funny, but now it’s just getting sad.

Not only do we get denigrated and dragged through the mud by the pundits and politicians in central Canada, but they always find a way to take more money from us too.

The concept of robbing the west to pay the rest is just another proud Canadian tradition carried on from one Prime Minister to the next, and this week we’re back to the old favourite, equalization, again.

In theory, equalization payments are given to provinces with weaker economies to help them provide public services.

If a province falls below the national average, it receives equalization payments – these are the “have-not” provinces, while the provinces above the national average, like Alberta, are the “have” provinces.


It’s a common misconception that the “have” provinces pay money directly to the “have-not” provinces.

That’s not technically true – everyone is paying money into and receiving money from the federal government’s pot, and it’s the net difference that determines whether you’re a payer or a receiver.

But, in practice, these are essentially the same thing.

Many on the left try to use this slight detail to claim that Alberta doesn’t pay anything at all, which is blatantly not true, so don’t let them be misleading about what is essentially just a definitional argument about what counts as “paying”.

Well, this week we found out that equalization is now so out of control, and so much money is being taken out of Alberta, that they literally had too much money to give out.

That’s right, they collected so much money from Alberta, that even after they’ve raised up all the “have-not” provinces to equal the national average, there was still money left over.

So, what did they do?

Give it back to hardworking taxpayers in Alberta?

No, don’t be silly, they gave it to Ontario.

But, isn’t Ontario a “have” province that’s supposed to be paying, not receiving, I hear you ask?

Yep, but they did it anyway.

For the upcoming 2023-24 fiscal year, Ontario will get $421 million in equalization, despite being a “have” province.

The equalization program is now so ridiculously broken that they are giving equalization payments to “have” provinces too!


Alberta had already been kicked in the teeth a few times this week by Ottawa – in particular regarding the so-called “just transition”

(Remember, that’s the federal government’s plan to transition our economy away from everything that pays for equalization).

Paying extra tax in order to fund equalization payments to Ontario must surely be the final straw?

Many economists say that little “quirks” like this just mean that the formula needs tweaking.

Some minor changes around the edges can make the system “fairer” for Albertans.

But, it’s funny how all these little “quirks” of the various systems in Confederation all seem to lead to Alberta paying more or other provinces receiving more.

There’s never a quirk that means other provinces receive less or Alberta pays less, is there?

What the economists fail to consider is that equalization isn’t just a mathematical formula that can be perfected.

It’s a political tool used by Ottawa to buy votes in certain parts of the country.

So even if these quirks aren’t deliberate, there’s no incentive for the politicians in Ottawa to fix the formula overall.

It’s simply not in their political interest to fix it.

The system is so ridiculously complex and skewed against Alberta that it just needs to be abolished altogether.

62% of Albertans voted to do exactly this in a referendum, but we were completely ignored.

So, now, we need a constitutional convention.

Constitutional reform is required to strengthen national unity and provide equal footing for provinces wary of federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.

The current constitutional order is designed to favour voter-heavy provinces, with no real defence available to smaller provinces.

A constitutional convention may be the only way to keep the country together.

Without one, inflamed regional anger will continue to divide the country, and the viability of remaining a single nation will continue to deteriorate.

Reforms are long past due.

If Alberta – and the rest of Canada – want to avoid Ottawa intruding on their constitutional jurisdiction, we need to pursue formal changes to the Constitution.

Might we fail? Yes

But, we will definitely fail if we don’t stand our ground at every stop.

Securing a constitutional convention will be a major focus of our work in 2023.

If you’re ready to get involved, please click here to sign up to volunteer.

If you can help fund our efforts and our ongoing activism work, please click here to make a donation.

It’s time to start fighting back!


Josh Andrus
Executive Director
Project Confederation

P.S. We started a petition to oppose the “Just Transition” legislation – if you agree with us that the program will do immeasurable harm to Alberta, please click here to sign it. And, if you’d like to help us fight for an end to equalization and push for a constitutional convention, please click here to make a donation now.

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