EDMONTON—A panel examining Alberta’s role in Confederation kicked off its public town hall tour on Dec. 3, with many telling the panellists the province deserves a better deal—but through collaboration rather than confrontation.
More than 150 people spoke to the panellists at a north Edmonton community centre.
The speakers were given two minutes to make their points.
Alain Gauthier said he was born and raised in Quebec and believes Alberta needs to learn from Quebec’s push to gain greater independence for itself on cost−shared programs with Ottawa.
“The last couple of decades, yeah, I think we’re not really getting a fair deal,” Gauthier told the panel, which includes three United Conservative legislature members and former federal Reform Party leader Preston Manning.
“Stand up and organize ourselves. It took referendums for them and threats of separation [for Quebec to get a better deal].
“I don’t think separation should be on the table now, however, why not have it kind of [in the background].”
Diego Carducci said no one in Canada feels like they’re getting a fair deal, but the underlying issue is Alberta being held hostage to the decisions of other jurisdictions to get its natural resources to market.
“We want greater self−determination over our own economic development. That is just driving us crazy right now,” said Carducci.
“We’re the best at developing the resources that we have. We have some of the lowest carbon oil in the world and we’re being stifled in that development.”
But he urged Alberta collaborate with other provinces and build alliances with Ottawa and the provinces to get it done.
Premier Jason Kenney has said provinces like British Columbia and Quebec should not be allowed to obstruct pipelines from Alberta while benefiting financially from those industries.
Last month, he created the Fair Deal Panel and tasked it to come up with recommendations on how to best advance Alberta’s economic interests within Confederation, including possibly creating its own police force and pulling the province out of the Canada Pension Plan.
The panel has until Jan. 30 to hold the meetings across the province, gather online feedback and consult with experts.
It is to submit a final report with recommendations to the government by March 31.