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Fair Deal Panel recommends Alberta police and pension; status quo on Constitution

The report said Alberta should take immediate steps to create a provincial pension plan, set up its own police force and appoint a chief firearms officer.

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Alberta’s Fair Deal panel is recommending numerous changes the province can make quickly in order to get a better deal in confederation – but there is no talk of long-term Constitutional change nor any mention of independence.

The long-awaited report was released Wednesday by Premier Jason Kenney.

The report said Alberta should take immediate steps to create a provincial pension plan, set up its own police force and appoint a chief firearms officer.

Kenney said the government will conduct a detailed study on a provincial police force and announce it next year.

The premier said a study will also be started into the proposed provincial pension plan and if adopted it would also be put to a province-wide referendum next year.

In terms of the controversial issue of Fiscal Stabilization, the Fair Deal panel said Alberta should “press strenuously for the removal of the current constraints on the Fiscal Stabilization Program, which prevent Albertans from receiving a $2.4 billion equalization rebate.”

It also said the province should proceed with a proposed referendum on Equalization, asking a clear question along the lines of: “Do you support the removal of Section 36, which deals with the principle of equalization, from the Constitution Act, 1982?”

Kenney said his government accepts that recommendation and the referendum would be held next year. He called Equalization an ‘unfair” program.

“Failure to secure a fair deal for Alberta is not an option,” Kenney said.

He said getting some of the recommendations through would give “Alberta greater autonomy in Confederation.”

Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer said the process to appoint a chief firearms officer is now underway.

Other suggestions on what Alberta should do immediately is to secure a seat at the table when the federal government negotiates and implements international agreements and treaties affecting Alberta’s interests, opt out of new federal cost-shared programs, subject to Alberta receiving full compensation and continue to diversify Alberta’s economy in the energy sector and beyond.

“A substantial majority of Albertans do not believe they are receiving a fair deal from the federal government. Many are angry and want the Government of Alberta to reassert its position in Confederation and minimize Ottawa’s overreach,” the report said.

“The Fair Deal Panel encourages the Government of Alberta to act vigorously and swiftly, through collaboration with other governments and unilaterally, to secure a fair deal for Albertans

“Some Albertans believe that the only way to get Ottawa and other provinces to pay attention to unfairness and misunderstandings is to use the threat of separation, implying that if Alberta does not get a fairer place within the federation, the province will pursue secession from Canada.

“Listening to Albertans, the panel understands their anger and frustration and sympathizes with their harsh personal experiences. But we do not believe the threat of secession is a constructive negotiating strategy.

“However, we believe that if the federal government and the rest of Canada do not respond positively and quickly to Albertans’ demands for a fair deal, then support for secession will only grow.”

The Panel also suggested the following steps Alberta should take to get a fair deal within Confeseration:

• Collaborate with other jurisdictions to reduce trade barriers within Canada and pressure the federal government to enforce free trade in Canada.

• Collaborate with other jurisdictions and other stakeholders to secure cross-border rights of way and create unobstructed corridors within Canada to tidewater and world markets.

• Collaborate with other jurisdictions to design and advance regional strategies for northern development; pressure the federal government to implement those strategies.

• Support and press for the strictest possible application of the principle of representation by population in the House of Commons.

• Work with other provinces and the federal government to democratize the Senate appointment process

• Secure a fairer share of federal civil service opportunities and federal offices in Western Canada.

• Abolish or at least change the residency requirement for the federal courts.

• Assert more control over immigration for the economic benefit of Alberta.

• Collaborate with other provinces and industry to advance market-based approaches to environmental protection, including a reduction in GHG emissions.

• Continue to challenge federal legislation that affects provincial jurisdiction.

• Work with other provinces to secure a federal-provincial agreement prohibiting the federal government from spending, taxing, legislating, or treaty making in areas of provincial or joint jurisdiction without the consent of the affected province(s).

“Our initial inclination was to first list, and most heavily emphasize, those recommendations that Alberta could implement on its own. We were inclined to do this, because we anticipated that the cooperation and support of other governments would be most difficult to achieve, given some of the tensions which existed between Alberta and the federal government in particular,” the report states.

“However, in recent months, as a result of the need for all Canadians and their governments to pull together to cope with the current health and economic crises, we have witnessed a much greater willingness on the part of the provincial and federal governments to mutually support and cooperate with each other.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said it pleased to see that the Fair Deal Panel’s report acknowledges that equalization reform must be a key aspect of Alberta’s fight for fairness.

“Albertans know we’ve been getting a raw deal and that there is no fair deal without tackling equalization so it’s great to see the Fair Deal Panel acknowledge the importance of an equalization referendum,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

“There’s still a lot more work to do, but this report and an equalization referendum are the crucial first few steps in Alberta’s fight for fairness.”

The Fair Deal Panel was established and commissioned by Premier Jason Kenney in November 2019. The panel conducted the bulk of its public hearings and received the most input from experts and interest groups during the months of December, January and early February.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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UCP has no plans to debate their own anti-independence motion: source

Sources tell the Western Standard that the UCP motion meant to skirt an NDP anti-independence motion will die on the order paper.

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A UCP motion intended to shut down debate on rejecting Alberta independence is likely to die on the order paper without any debate or vote, sources tell the Western Standard.

On Monday, NDP MLA Heather Sweet introduced a motion  asking for the Legislature to reject independence and support a united Canada.

But the UCP refused to give it the unanimous consent needed to allow debate. Instead, the UCP gave a notice of their own motion, which makes no explicit mention of the independence question.

The resolution would “affirm its [Alberta’s] loyalty to a united Canadian federation, and urge the Government to obtain a fair deal for Alberta within the Canadian federation.”

But now, sources inside the UCP tell the Western Standard that the government has no plans to allow their own motion to come forward for debate, instead letting it die on the order paper.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon did not respond to requests for comment, however after this story was originally published, a spokesperson told the Western Standard, “Oral notice for the motion was provided yesterday, and the motion is now on the Order Paper. This is standard procedure.”

Nixon’s spokesperson did not say if and when the motion would be debated.

The NDP motion appears to have been an attempt to try and divide the UCP caucus between its federalist leadership and sovereigntist-leaning elements in the backbenches; most notably, MLA Drew Barnes who said that a referendum on independence should be on the table in negotiations with the rest if Canada fail to secure Alberta a fairer deal within confederation

“Repeatedly, UCP Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes has, without challenge or objection  from Jason Kenney or any member of the UCP Cabinet and Caucus, supported the idea of Alberta separating from Canada,” the NDP said in a release on Canada Day.

Kenney slammed the independence movement after Barnes’ first comments were made public.

Heather Sweet, NDP House Leader, said, “This motion will force Jason Kenney and the UCP to finally take a stand. Fanning the flames of separatism is this Premier’s way of distracting Albertans from his failed $4.7-billion corporate handout, which hasn’t created jobs or drawn in new investment.”

In an earlier interview with the Western Standard, Barnes dismissed the motion at NDP politicking.

“I am very, very disappointed the NDP with the motion would try and diminish the role of Alberta within Confederation,” Barnes said.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Yet another U.S. court blow for Keystone XL pipeline

The court kept in place a lower court edict that blocked a key permit for the project.

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The Keystone XL pipeline project has been handed another legal hurdle in the U.S., this time by that country’s Supreme Court.

In a Monday ruling, the court kept in place a lower court edict that blocked a key permit for the project.

It’s yet another legal blow for Calgary-based TC Energy which has been trying to get the pipeline built for years.

Another blow could come in November with the U.S. election. Democrat candidate Joe Biden has vowed to cancel the pipeline’s permit that was brought in by President Donald Trump after it was cancelled by Barack Obama.

Last week, Premier Jason Kenney held a press conference to celebrate work getting underway in Alberta on the project. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion in the pipeline and has given TC access to $6 billion more in loan guarantees.

Work on the Alberta section will continue will the U.S. legal morass continues.

It’s been a bad few days for pipeline in the U.S. with the cancellation of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline in the Southeast and on Monday a ruling that shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

In the Keystone case, an April ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana had threatened to delay not just Keystone but more than 70 pipeline projects across the U.S., and add as much as $2 billion in costs, according to industry representatives, the AP reported.

TC Energy spokesman Terry Cunha told the AP the company is not giving up on Keystone, but it will have to delay large portions of the 1,900-kilometre pipeline. 

Keystone was proposed in 2008 and would carry up to 830,000 barrels of Alberta crude daily to Nebraska, where it would be transferred to another TC Energy pipeline for shipment to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Former Alberta NDP Minister: People shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Communism

“I know some people will see the word Communist and jump to all kinds of conclusions but I’d say give it a read before you do that, it may surprise you,” Shaye Anderson said.

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Just give Communism a try, you might like it.

That’s the message from former Alberta NDP cabinet minister Shaye Anderson, who served as municipal affairs minister under Rachel Notley’s government.

“This is a good read. I know some people will see the word Communist and jump to all kinds of conclusions but I’d say give it a read before you do that, it may surprise you,” Anderson tweeted Monday in response to an article written by Elizabeth Rowley, the leader of the Communist Party of Canada.

Anderson tweet

The article, in a Communist website called The People’s Choice, covered a variety of tops including the COVID-19 pandemic and the rioting over police racism.

“The pandemic has underlined all the ills of capitalism. These include privatization and deregulation, tax cuts for the rich and the corporations, trade deals that destroy manufacturing and secondary industry, low wages and precarious work, growing poverty and insecurity,” Rowley wrote.

Elizabeth Rowley
Courtesy YouTube

“Eighty percent of COVID-related deaths in Canada have occurred among residents and workers in long-term care (LTC) homes. Most of these are private, for profit operations that are under-staffed, under-funded, and largely unregulated. LTC must be brought under public healthcare and treated as a public service with federal standards, needs-based staffing and funding.

“It is now clear to everyone that ‘we’re not all in this together.’ The wealthy have managed quite nicely. But the poor and unemployed, and those living and working in cramped or unaffordable housing without childcare, are in desperate straits and much more likely to become infected by the virus.

“While Cuba and China have been providing supplies, equipment and teams of healthcare workers to countries around the world, private producers of essential supplies and equipment in the capitalist countries have raised their prices, selling to the highest bidders.”

In the wake of race riots in the U.S., Rowley called for the disarming of police forces.

“The Central Committee received Party Executive’s previously issued statement supporting the protests and demanding an end to police killings and the systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples. The statement noted that this oppression is a built-in feature of capitalism, which helps generate vast super-profits for the biggest exploiters, the large national and transnational corporations,” she wrote.

“The CC reiterated the Party’s long-standing demands for radical reform of policing. These include charging, prosecuting and sentencing police for crimes such as murder, rape and assault; demilitarizing police forces and disarming most police units, and putting an end to racial profiling and carding; enacting strong civilian control over police; slashing police and military budgets and redirecting those funds to civilian and social spending; and abolishing CSIS, the CSE and RCMP, as well as “anti-terrorist” legislation that threatens civil and democratic rights.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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