So this is a second letter that I sent to the Fair Deal Panel. It was written and submitted prior to the deadline for feedback set by the Panel (January 31st, 2020). This deadline was changed and a new survey was posted online (https://www.alberta.ca/fair-deal-panel.aspx). If you are an Albertan you may want to complete the survey. I only found about it by reading an article written by the Globe and Mail.
January 29, 2020
Oryssia Lennie CM, Alberta Fair Deal Panel Chair
Dear Ms. Lennie,
I am writing to you with my concerns about the Alberta Fair Deal that is being considered by the Panel and the Panel process. I understand that your panel was established by Premier Jason Kenney with a mandate to “listen to Albertans and their ideas for Alberta’s future”. This is interesting given the lack of effort by the Panel in providing opportunities for Albertans to be heard. One town hall meeting hastily scheduled and restricted to approximately 150 people in the City of Edmonton (a city of 1M people) is hardly an opportunity to listen to these Albertans. Further the online survey which asks one question only “In your opinion, what could help Alberta get a fair deal in Canada?” is an obvious attempt to appear to be interested yet blocking true input and feedback. Did the Panel really want to listen to Albertans and hear their ideas? I believe not.
I have major concerns about the ideas presented in the mandate letter, each one of them. That we as Albertans would be better served by these suggested actions is absurd in the least. Each of these actions is neither practical nor beneficial to Albertans and each has a hefty price that will ultimately and unnecessarily cost Alberta taxpayers. But I am sure you and your fellow panel members are well aware of this as you are also aware that most, if not all, of these absurd suggestions have already been reviewed in the previous flawed attempt to threaten the Federal Government and incite anger amongst some Albertans. It is the existence of the current Panel and the suggestions themselves that incite anger for the rest of us.
Premier Kenney’s action of imitating the process that ensued as a result of the “firewall letter” signed by Stephen Harper and sent to Premier Ralph Klein in 2001 and the subsequent review completed in 2003/2004 is both a waste of taxpayers dollars and an insult to the intelligence of Albertans (those who have not been fooled into believing that all the woes of the province are the fault of the Federal Government and our ties to Canada as a country). Perhaps Premier Kenney has forgotten that following the “firewall” fiasco he was part of the Federal Conservative Government under the Prime Minister, none other than, Stephen Harper. After being in power from 2006 until 2015 neither Harper nor Kenney were able to make good on the so-called wishes of Albertans. Was there true concern, on their part, about how the actions suggested in the “firewall letter” would be beneficial to Alberta or were their suggestions, like those of the Fair Deal, only a tool to threaten the Federal Liberal Government of the time? A repeat of history is tiresome, especially when it has been proven to be futile.
As a native Albertan I am also proud to be a Canadian and I am not at all interested in secession of Alberta from Canada and if truth be told, neither is Premier Kenney (although not a native Albertan). I am also not interested in development of a made in Alberta approach to agencies and activities that are being effectively handled at the national level. At the end of the day I expect that your Panel will determine that either more study of these suggestions is required or that the referenda that Premier Kenney has already planned on equalization, the Canada Pension Plan and the RCMP among other things will be required. Either way, a waste of 650,000 taxpayer dollars while funds for nurses, teachers, civil servants and others are being forcibly slashed is obscene and not good stewardship of public dollars.
In addition to what has previously been stated, my responses to the specific the items of the Fair Deal are as follows:
- I DO NOT WANT an Alberta provincial revenue agency to collect my provincial and federal taxes: I do not trust a provincial agency that would be operated under the guidance of the current UCP government.
- I DO NOT WANT an Alberta Pension Plan instead of the Canada Pension Plan: I do not trust the current UCP government to manage a provincial pension plan in a fair and effective way.
- I DO NOT WANT a provincial police force: I would not feel safe with a police force that is under the control of the current UCP government.
- I DO NOT believe that current international relations, including treaty negotiations would benefit from participation of the current UCP government.
- I DEPLORE any hint that public bodies, including municipalities and school boards, would be legally required to obtain the approval of the provincial government before they can enter into agreements with the federal government: Given the UCP’s amendments to the City Charters Fiscal Framework Act and apparent disregard for the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton this action would be devastating for these cities and the people who reside in the same (I have submitted a separate letter on this item).
- I DO NOT feel it is necessary to appoint the Chief Firearms Office for Alberta: I worry about the intention behind this suggestion.
- I DO NOT WANT to opt out of federal cost share programs and further I support the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program.
- I DO NOT like the idea of seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfers under the Canada Health and Social Transfers; I worry that this will further the UCP governments desire to destroy our public health care system in favour of a private system
- I DO NOT see the need for establishing a formalized provincial constitution: I see this as redundant and at the same time have concerns about the fairness of a UCP crafted provincial constitution.
In summary, I am frustrated both by the establishment of the Panel and the contents of the Alberta Fair Deal. Further, from my point of view I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Fair Deal Panel has not really “listen(ed) to Albertans and their ideas for Alberta’s future”. My only hope now is that the Panel will be fair in preparing a report that is balanced and considered. Thank you for your attention to my input.