Northern Albertans deserve equalization fairness

Member of Legislative Assembly Report

By BRIAN JEAN, MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin

BRIAN JEAN, MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin

BRIAN JEAN, MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin

Northern Alberta has quite simply been the crown jewel of Canada’s economy for over a decade now.

Our energy sector is the economic engine of Canada. Our farmland is rich and fertile. Our hunting and fishing are world-renowned. And our people are some of the kindest and hardest working you will find anywhere.

Premier Rachel Notley just doesn’t get it. She believes she needs to apologize for Fort McMurray and our energy sector in order to obtain “social license”. She completely ignores the fact that among the world’s top energy-producing jurisdictions, we are leaders in human rights, environmental integrity and labour standards.

Ms. Notley has consistently stood quietly while self-interested politicians from Quebec point their finger at Fort McMurray with one hand, and accept billions in equalization with the other.

This problem came to a head last week when the Government of Quebec filed a court injunction against the Energy East pipeline, a critical nation building project that would create over $9 billion in economic activity for Quebec.

A group of Quebec politicians is doing its best to kill this project while at the same time accepting more than $10 billion in equalization this year alone.

Only four provinces pay into equalization lately – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and British Columbia – and natural resources are essential to all of our economies, as well as Canada’s on a whole.

It’s time for Quebec to stop playing on the sidelines of confederation, and start doing its part for Canada, or it should consider returning a large chunk of the energy-reliant equalization dollars it receives from us.

Recently, the Wildrose Official Opposition convened a blue-ribbon panel on equalization and launched fairequalization.ca.

This website gives Albertans a chance to have their voices on equalization heard and their opinions considered for a final report that will be tabled in the legislature this fall.

The current equalization agreement expires in 2019. Alberta needs a clear direction on equalization policy so that it can advance its position prior to the next round of negotiations.

The mandate of our equalization panel is to develop a position on equalization that meets the constitutional intentions behind the equalization program in a way that is fair, not only to Alberta, but to all provinces.

The expert panel members are from all over Canada. They will draw on their academic expertise and objectivity to provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta, and we want you to be a part of that process.

Albertans have done so much for Canada’s economy. We don’t deserve to be taken advantage of by political opportunists.

Albertans and all Canadians deserve to know they have an equalization system that treats them fairly. A thorough review of our country’s current equalization formula, and the early development of an independent set of recommendations on what Alberta’s government should be talking about with our partners in the federation, is in everyone’s best interest.

Please visit fairequalization.ca, and have your voice heard on this very important topic.

-Connect Weekly-