Letter – Time to act is now

In 2001, six prominent Albertans outlined an “Alberta Agenda” in a letter to Premier Ralph Klein known as the “firewall letter”.

In many ways, Alberta’s situation is now more dire than it was in 2000 and so it is time for an updated version of the letter, to Premier Jason Kenney, outlining “A New Alberta Agenda”.

This time, however, we are taking a grassroots approach and inviting all Albertans to sign on to the letter.

In just a few days, the letter has attracted the signatures of more than 3,000 Albertans.

The original letter was published in the National Post, but to reflect our grassroots approach, we are instead inviting small local Alberta newspapers to publish the new version.

Josh Andrus,
Executive Director,
Project Confederation

Open letter to Premier Kenney

During and since the recent federal election, we have been among a large number of Albertans discussing the future of our province.

In our view, the Trudeau government undertook a series of attacks not merely designed to defeat its partisan opponents, but to marginalize Alberta and Albertans within Canada’s political system.

One well-documented incident was the prime minister’s attack against Alberta’s energy sector during the French-language debate.

Alberta’s economy has been struggling for years, hundreds of thousands of Albertans are out of work or underemployed, businesses are closing, and capital is fleeing at an astonishing pace.

Instead of helping Alberta address these challenges, Ottawa has taken the opportunity to aggravate the situation and only made things worse.

Taxes and regulations have wrecked our economy, while radical environmental regulations threaten to prevent any possible recovery by shutting down our resource industry – an explicitly stated goal of our prime minister.

Many held out hope that the federal election would solve Alberta’s problems, and given the result, they now see separation from Canada as the only remaining solution.

Their frustrations are entirely valid, but why should we be the ones forced out of Confederation?

Alberta has been an essential part of Confederation for 114 years.

Alberta has contributed resources, ideas, jobs, and, yes, hundreds of billions of dollars to Confederation and all we ask in return is to be allowed to continue doing so.

Yet, if Ottawa remains unwilling to listen to Alberta’s plea, then separatist sentiment will grow even further.

Before Albertans take that step, however, we owe it to those who came before us, who have worked so hard to build Canada, to first provide an alternative to breaking up our country.

It’s time to fight for a new vision of Canada where regional differences are respected, where different provinces are allowed to try different policies, and where Albertans have the freedom to choose our own destiny.

Mr. Premier, we are grateful that you have vehemently protested the unprecedented attacks that the federal government has launched against Alberta’s economy in recent years.

However, while your protest was necessary and appreciated by Albertans, it is not enough.

If the government in Ottawa concludes that Alberta is a soft target, we will be subjected to much worse.

It is time for Albertans to boldly stand up for our own future and seek, as much as possible, to be the masters of our own destiny.

This means resuming control of the powers that we possess under the Constitution of Canada but which we have allowed the federal government to exercise for too long.

Poised and purposeful use of these powers will help Alberta build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future in spite of a government in Ottawa that has never been more hostile to our values and interests.

Mr. Premier, it is critical for you to take all possible political and legal measures to reduce the financial raid of Alberta perpetuated by Canada’s tax-and-transfer system.

The most recent estimates are Albertans transfer $5,200 per capita annually to other Canadians, for a total outflow from Alberta approaching $22 billion a year and $600 billion over the last 60 years.

The same federal politicians who wish to shut down Alberta’s key industries have no compunction about appropriating our Canadian dollars, generated by those industries, to buy votes elsewhere in the country.

Under the heading of “A New Alberta Agenda” we propose that our province move forward on the following fronts: [see ‘wish list’ in online version at southpeacenews.com]

Mr. Premier, we acknowledge the bold and ambitious reforms that your government is implementing – balancing the budget, paying down the provincial debt, privatizing government services, getting Albertans back to work, restoring a single-rate tax, reducing business taxes, ending corporate welfare, and many other beneficial changes.

Alberta must fight on multiple fronts in order to secure its future.

The government in Ottawa will always be tempted to take advantage of Alberta’s prosperity, to redistribute income from Alberta to residents of other provinces in order to keep itself in power.

It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.

If we succeed, we may rescue a Confederation which has never been so divided.

Then, once Alberta’s position is secured, only our imagination will limit the prospects for our great province.

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