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Albertans vote in favour of removing equalization from Constitution

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EDMONTON — The final results from Alberta’s equalization referendum show almost 62 per cent of those who voted want to see the principle of equalization removed from the Constitution.

A second referendum question to keep daylight time year-round failed by a whisker: 50.1 per cent to 49.9 per cent.

The votes were held on Oct. 18 in conjunction with municipal and school board elections across the province.

All but a small fraction of districts voted to remove equalization.

Calgary voted 58 per cent in favour of removing it, but Edmonton voted 52 per cent in favour of leaving equalization alone.

Premier Jason Kenney was scheduled to address the results later Tuesday.

The path forward on equalization is not clear.

Kenney has said while the vote was about removing equalization, he actually wants to use it as leverage to address all federal transfers that he feels are unfair to Alberta.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that Kenney knows the federal government can’t unilaterally change the Constitution.

Trudeau said it can only be done with “significant consensus” involving Ottawa working with seven provinces or territories representing more than 50 per cent of the population.

He also questioned why Kenney was campaigning against an equalization program that was last tweaked by a federal Conservative cabinet that included Kenney.

Equalization sees some tax money collected by the federal government redistributed from wealthier provinces to lower-income ones to ensure a basic level of service for all.

Kenney has said Alberta has concerns over billions of dollars its residents pay, while provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec obstruct oil and pipeline projects that underpin that wealth.

Alberta estimates it pays in $20 billion a year to the equalization program. It has rarely been a net beneficiary of equalization since the program was created in 1957.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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NewsAlert: Canada should align with allies on Olympic diplomatic boycott: Trudeau

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is important for Canada to align with its allies on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Trudeau says Canada has been talking to allies for “many months” about the issue and an official announcement is expected later today.

The United States was first to announce a diplomatic boycott Monday, meaning American athletes would still compete in Beijing but no U.S. political officials would attend.

Australia and the United Kingdom have both now followed suit.

They cite human rights concerns including allegations of genocide against the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang province.

China denies those allegations and is accusing the United States of upending the political neutrality of sport.

More Coming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate on hold

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OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate target on hold at its rock-bottom level of 0.25 per cent.

In a statement, the central bank also says senior decision makers don’t expect to raise the trendsetting rate until some time between April and September next year, which is unchanged from its previous guidance.

The Bank of Canada also warns that high inflation rates will continue through the first half of next year.

The Bank of Canada says it won’t be until the second half of 2022 that inflation falls back towards the bank’s comfort zone of between one and three per cent.

By the end of next year, the bank is forecasting the annual inflation rate to fall to 2.1 per cent.

The bank says it is keeping a close eye on expectations for price growth and wage growth to make sure they don’t create a spiral of price increases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press


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