Letter – Where is the equal in equalization?

I have concerns regarding our current economic challenges in Alberta. Still in a recession and the challenges of job creation, energy investment, pipeline approval and international trade continue to plague us all.

More importantly is the “tightening noose around our necks” called the federal equalization program and the current fiscal stabilization programs. My family is deeply frustrated with Alberta’s economic disadvantage and so I have contacted all the leaders of the various political parties in Alberta to express our discontent for the equalization program.

Perhaps we can force the federal government to renegotiate equalization by having a provincial referendum. The upcoming election on April 16 is a golden opportunity to hold this vote. However, it is up to Rachel Notley’s NDP government to put a referendum question on the ballot.

I learned from an e-mail correspondence March 15 with our premier, that when the price of oil collapsed, Alberta’s revenue dropped by nearly $6.9 billion. The federal fiscal stabilization program and equalization program was not there for Alberta when we needed it most. We all agree that Albertans deserve real value from the money we send to Ottawa. In Alberta, every woman, man and child contributes an average of $5,148 to our country more than we receive back. This is six times more, per person, than the next largest contributor. We send approximately $20 billion more to Ottawa than we receive in transfers, programs and services. This needs to stop and we need a premier who can free Albertans from being “Canada’s tax and debt slaves”.

It is disheartening when anyone expresses a lack of support for the energy industry that has allowed Alberta to provide economic benefits to people across this country for decades. Albertans must insist that our next premier will prioritize and negotiate east and west market access for our resources.

In a recent e-mail conversation our MP, Arnold Viersen representing our constituency, Peace River-Westlock, I learned that Justin Trudeau’s lack of foresight continues to have detrimental effects. He snuck a five-year equalization plan into his previous budget without telling or consulting anyone. This makes Alberta more vulnerable than ever.

I am by nature an optimistic person who favours a united Canada but lately it is crystal clear that Alberta is not an equal in Confederation. Trudeau’s government is willing to break the law to save jobs in Quebec [SNC-Lavalin] but will not do anything constructive to help bring down huge unemployment rates in Alberta.

To add insult to injury, the Liberal government jumped into immediate action when 5,000 jobs were threatened at an auto plant in Ontario but in December Alberta lost 15,500 jobs and January another 16,000 jobs and we saw no action from Trudeau despite the massive pro-pipeline convoy that emerged on Parliament hill in February.

Our region is suffering due to the oil crisis and now the China canola crisis is negatively affecting farmers.

Many still have 50 per cent of their bins filled with product that can not get to market, yet farm loans must be made.

Furthermore, we need to support our farmers in their “Save Our Seed” campaign and not allow rich influential seed lobbyists to get their way so they can exploit the farmer with ridiculously expensive seed royalties.

I am tired of being exploited by our central government who continually favours central Canada. Quebec, the grand leech of Confederation, boasts a $3 billion surplus, and is the biggest exploiter [Calgary Herald, Dec 14, 2018].

Every day Canada spends $10 million on oil from Saudi Arabia since Quebec is blocking the pipeline and does not want Alberta oil, so doing the math that equates to $20 billion spent on Saudi crude [Ontario Proud, 2018].

Yet, here in Alberta we are forgoing $80 million a day because Alberta oil is weathering the worse downturn in a decade and is being held hostage by the lack of any outward access to world markets. [National Post, Nov. 23, 2018].

We need to get our pipelines in the ground and soon. Albertans are tired of being treated as second-class citizens in this country. The federal government needs to stop subsidizing companies like Bombardier, sneaking in Trojan Horse legislation, playing favours to corrupt construction companies in Quebec. Put the “equal” in Equalization making these payments fair for all!

We have a provincial election slated for April 16. All the candidates running for office regardless of their political party affiliation need to stand up for Alberta. Our livelihood and future depend on it.

Michelle Pitre,
Girouxville, AB.


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