By Caitlin Rose Morgante
September 27, 2021
A new Canadian Taxpayers Federation campaign is urging Albertans to vote yes to abolish equalization payments to have-not provinces, weeks before Alberta’s Oct. 18 referendum.
“Albertans have had it rough for the last six-plus years, and we’re tired of being treated as the cash cow for the rest of Canada,” said Kevin Lacey, the CTF’s Alberta director and head of the Fight Equalization campaign. “Voting yes in this October’s referendum is a great way to send the Trudeau government a message that the equalization status quo must go.”
Since 1961, Albertans have paid $661 billion more to Ottawa than they have received back in spending. Encompassed in that amount is equalization, which costs Alberta taxpayers approximately $3 billion per year, or over $600 per Albertan.
Despite this significant contribution to Canada, the government has made it extremely difficult for Alberta’s economy to develop by instituting policies such as the carbon tax, the tanker ban, and the anti-pipeline legislation.
Even as the oil and gas sector has declined, Alberta has still been on the hook for other provinces’ economic fortunes.
Quebec receives over half of all equalization payments. Yet Premier François Legault has railed against development of Alberta’s oil and gas sector, calling it “dirty energy” and saying “there’s no social acceptability for an additional oil pipeline.”
The referendum question will ask whether section 36(2) of Canada’s constitution, which commits to equalization payments, should “be removed from the Constitution.”
If Albertans vote yes, the equalization structure will not change, but Kenney said it would give him leverage as he tries to gain national support for a constitutional amendment.
“Albertans shouldn’t be expected to contribute so much money while politicians in other provinces and Ottawa continue to roadblock our development,” said Lacey. “Albertans know we are getting a raw deal and voting yes in the equalization referendum is a crucial step in Alberta’s fight for fairness.”
The Fight Equalization campaign will include advertisements, campaign signs, and a digital presence on fightequalization.ca.