Josh Andrus - Project Confederation
$420 Million equalization payment to Ontario goes too far – Project Confederation calling for Constitutional Convention
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!
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.
Alberta NDP have their own Just Transition plan – Project Confederation
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.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is leading the fight against our own federal government to save Canada
Article submitted by Josh Andrus of Project Confederation
A lot of media attention of late has been focused on the Emergencies Act testimonies in Ottawa and Danielle Smith’s rise to the Premier’s Office here in Alberta.
However, the biggest development in federal/provincial politics in the last week might actually have happened in Saskatchewan, where Premier Scott Moe has taken a firm stance against the federal government in a document entitled Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy.
The paper clearly sets out a problem and then proposes specific solutions.
First, the problem…
The Saskatchewan government has identified nine different federal climate change policies that are estimated to cost the province a total of $111 billion between 2022 and 2035 – the approximate halfway point to the federal government’s 2050 net-zero targets.
The costs of each of the nine policies are:
- Federal Carbon Tax: $24.7 billion;
- Oil and Gas Methane Mandate: $6.3 billion;
- Oil and Gas Emissions Cap: $2.6 billion;
- Fertilizer Mandate: $19.3 billion;
- Clean Fuel Regulations: $34.9 billion;
- Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate: $10.3 billion;
- Federal Output Based Pricing System: $12.5 billion;
- Agriculture Methane Initiatives: $0.5 billion;
- Landfill Methane Mandate: $0.2 billion.
Don’t forget – these are just the direct costs.
We all know that the energy industry powers every other industry and, since energy is required to create almost every other product, as energy prices increase, costs for consumer goods will undoubtedly rise across the board as well.
Scott Moe and his team have a clear understanding of the problem and are deeply concerned about the impacts federal environmental policy can have on the economy.
For a province like Saskatchewan, where total provincial revenue for 2022 was just $17.2 billion, $111 billion is a gigantic cost.
And if that’s the cost to our neighbours, imagine what it will cost here in Alberta!
Remember too, this is just the first half of the federal government’s 2050 plan!
The economic costs of Net Zero 2050 are completely lost on the Trudeau government.
The 2021 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the constitutionality of the Carbon Tax, as we noted at the time, creates a dangerous precedent where the federal government can essentially trample all over the constitutional jurisdiction of provinces using the Peace, Order, and Good Governance Clause embedded in the constitution.
This means that the Supreme Court has effectively ruled that the federal government can take control of practically any issue, simply by claiming that it is a matter of national concern – completely ignoring provincial jurisdiction.
Consider that the definition of Confederation, as espoused by the Oxford English Dictionary, is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action.
Instead, what we now have is a federal government that has decided, upon the alter of climate change, to sacrifice our livelihoods and, with them, the very idea of Canada itself.
If we want to save this country, we need substantial reforms to the way this country is governed.
Thankfully, the Saskatchewan government’s paper also proposes some solutions that include:
- Provincial legislation to clarify and protect constitutional rights belonging to the province.
- Pursuing greater autonomy over immigration policy to ensure Saskatchewan has the people it needs.
- Better recognition of Saskatchewan industry’s contributions to sustainable growth – for example, developing a carbon credit market to support our natural resource industries.
- Preparing to take legal actions, legislative or otherwise, to maintain control of electricity, fertilizer emission/use targets and oil and gas emissions/production.
Here at Project Confederation, we’re very supportive of these ideas – in fact, many of them are ideas we’ve been promoting not just for Alberta, but for all of the west, since we launched as an organization.
So, props to Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan government for pushing us down the right path.
With your continued support, we can’t help but be excited about what we are capable of as we move forward.
Having seen significant success in Alberta already, we will be expanding our work all across Saskatchewan and the other western provinces in the coming months, as we take on Ottawa and prepare for the onslaught of a hostile federal government over the next few years.
If you’d like to get involved in our campaigns, you can sign up to volunteer with us here.
We also need financial support to continue with our work.
If you can afford to help fund our important work, please click here to make a contribution:
Thank you again to everyone for their help with this campaign and we look forward to working with you on many more issues in the future.
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