Albertans Vote to Scrap Equalization

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
October 26, 2021 Updated: October 26, 2021

Over 60 percent of Albertans have voted to remove the principle of equalization from the Constitution.

“A clear majority of Albertans have sent a powerful message to the rest of Canada on equalization,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on social media.

“This strong democratic expression gives Alberta’s government a renewed mandate to pursue a fair deal for all Albertans.”

The results of the Oct. 18 poll, held in conjunction with municipal and school board elections across the province, were released on Oct. 26.

A second referendum question on keeping daylight time year-round failed by a small margin, 49.9 percent to 50.1 percent.

Equalization

The referendum to remove equalization, an election promise by Kenney’s UCP government in 2019, received approval from 62 percent of voters.

There has been long-standing grievance in Alberta over the redistribution of wealth to other provinces under the equalization scheme, as contributions from energy-rich Alberta make up a sizeable portion of the payments to other provinces. Low oil prices in recent years has served to increase the opposition.

To decide which provinces can receive an equalization payment, Ottawa measures each province’s ability to raise tax revenues and compares that ability to other provinces. If a province lacks the ability to raise sufficient tax revenues to provide a reasonable level of public service compared to other provinces, that province will receive an equalization payment from the federal government.

Kenney has said that the referendum vote per se does not give Alberta the power to unilaterally remove the principle from the Constitution, but it does give the province more leverage to get others on board to remove it.

“A ‘yes’ vote on the principle of equalization does not automatically change equalization, it doesn’t remove it from the Constitution. We cannot do that unilaterally,” Kenney said in July.

“What it does is to elevate Alberta’s fight for fairness to the top of the national agenda. In a sense, it takes a page out of Quebec’s playbook.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.