BOW VALLEY — The provincial government has established a Fair Deal Panel to “stand up for Alberta” against the “barriers being placed in the way of Alberta’s economy” and Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin will be one of nine members holding a seat on the panel.
“This panel will be travelling across Alberta to consult with Albertans and really see what next steps we want to take to ensure Alberta gets a fair deal in our federation,” Rosin said. “I am incredibly excited and honoured [to be on the panel].”
Alberta is facing new challenges, Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference at Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino on Tuesday (Nov. 12), making the creation of the Fair Deal Panel imperative.
“There is a federal government that just ran a campaign against Alberta,” he said. “Against our largest job-creating industry.”
He added that it is concerning other provincial governments are standing in the way of pipelines and that a hostile federal government killed two pipelines preventing Alberta from getting a “fair deal” on natural resources.
“This is a new moment in our history and Albertans are asking us to stand up and fight for our vital economic interests,” Kenney said. “We were elected on a mandate to defend Alberta.”
After five years of economic decline and stagnation, Kenney said, people want a provincial government that will fight for their financial future. The Fair Deal Panel is a part of this process.
“People need to say their peace,” Kenney said. “But, in their heart of hearts, I believe that most Albertans are patriotic Canadians.”
The Fair Deal panel will focus on ideas that will aid in strengthening the province’s economy while providing Alberta with a bigger voice in the country.
“Recent public opinion surveys suggest that as many as one-third of Albertans support the concept of separating from the Canadian federation and that three-quarters of Albertans understand or sympathize with this sentiment,” reads a letter to members of Fair Deal Panel from premier Jason Kenney published on Nov. 9. “Many Albertans who indicate support for federalism are demanding significant reforms that will allow the province to develop its resources, and play a larger role in the federation, commensurate with the size of its economy and contribution to the rest of Canada.”
Rosin said national unity has been an issue at the forefront of her mind.
“I’ve honestly had a lot of sleepless nights over the future of our country,” Rosin said. “I love my country and I really don’t want to see it splinter in half.”
She said it has been worrying seeing the growing hatred, resentment and division in the province and country as a whole.
“There’s been a lot of hostility and anger that’s festering because of the raw deal we’ve been getting from Ottawa,” Rosin said, adding that she hopes the panel will be able to “mend some of the bridges” between neighbours, provinces and the different levels of government.
The panel is ready to fight for a better future for Alberta and the country as a whole, she added, and speaking with Albertans is a way to ensure unity can be reached.
Some of the plans of action suggested by the panel include using Alberta’s leverage to guarantee the construction and completion of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, investing in environmental technology, job creation, repealing Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 and accelerating federal approval of outstanding job-creating projects.
“Five years of economic decline and stagnation have been deepened and prolonged by policies emanating from the federal and some other provincial governments, many of which have sought to landlock Alberta’s vast energy resources,” reads Kenney’s letter to the panel. “This, plus policies that interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction, are seen by many Albertans as fundamentally unfair, particularly given the province’s enormous contribution to the Canadian economy, and to fiscal federalism.”
Other actions the panel will take into consideration include creating a provincial revenue agency to collect provincial taxes directly by ending of the Canada-Alberta Tax Collection agreement, creating an Alberta Pension Plan and withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan, creating a provincial police force, seeking a larger role in international relations and negotiations that affect Alberta’s interests, using provincial power to appoint the Chief Firearms Office for Alberta, opting out of federal cost-share programs with full compensation and creating a formalized provincial constitution.
“We are committed to staying in Canada,” Rosin said. “We’ll make sure Alberta remains a part of Canada and does so in the most self-reliant and prosperous way.”
Any actions that are considered will not be taken without holding a provincial referendum, Rosin said.
The Fair Deal Panel will be seeking public consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan 30, 2020, and will have completed its report to the government by March 31, 2020.
Information will be collected via consultation with experts, at least seven open meetings and research to inform recommendations. The panel has been given a budget of $650,000.
Albertans can share their input with the Fair Deal Panel via online surveys and other forms of direct feedback that are both digital and traditional.
There are no details at this time if a town hall will be held in the Bow Valley area or Calgary, Rosin said.
“We really want to ensure we have the best version of Alberta possible within the best version of Canada.”