Alberta’s equalisation vote: doomed from Day One

Lest anybody thinks Canada’s buffoon-in-chief will accept the results of Alberta’s referendum on equalisation payments, have their heads checked.

The official result read: almost 62 per cent of Albertans who had voted said they opposed their province sharing its wealth with the rest of the country willy-nilly.

Sounds overwhelming, but it isn’t.

First of all: 62 per cent is not even two-thirds of those who had voted. Do the math: the result means that 38 per cent of the voting public thought it was awfully nice of Alberta to pay, for example, Québec, that is, the province that sabotages Alberta’s source of wealth at each turn. Very Christian: get slapped on one cheek, and turn the other one, to make sure you’d been slapped in stereo.

But that isn’t the only reason why the buffoon-in-chief must think this is a rollickingly funny comedy.

Forests have been clear-cut to provide enough paper for the would-be scientific analyses trying to figure out the phenomenon a.k.a. voter apathy.

Only 40 per cent of eligible Albertans made the effort to lift their backsides and make the pilgrimage to the voting booths.

This means that only about one-fourth of eligible Alberta voters thought their province should stop paying others for either obstructing Alberta’s economy, or doing nothing, or both.

Nobody in their right mind can call this a mandate. Not by the longest stretch of anybody’s imagination.

Why do East Canadian commentators of all possible political stripes dismiss this referendum out of hand?

They feel free and justified to do so not only because of these numbers (it was LESS than 62 per cent, too: 61.7, to be precise).

Québec’s secession vote participation just a quarter of a century ago equalled 93.5 per cent of eligible Québeckers. That’s how many of them thought they should vote on the question whether La Belle Province would be better off being outside.

In fact, Québec voted twice on this question.

In 1980, the secessionists lost by almost a dozen percentage points while, in 1995, they lost by a meagre about one percentage point. Still, their participation numbers were always much higher than Alberta’s: over 85 per cent in 1980, and over 95 per cent in 1995.

Why should Justine Trudeau respect this referendum? Most commentators east of Manitoba write under headlines such as ignore the Alberta hicks and worse.

It won’t matter whether the buffoon-in-chief at 24 Sussex Drive will use any of the many constitutional barriers available to him, or whether he’ll just shrug this referendum off.

What matters is: he will ignore it, and nobody will be able to blame him, using any logical (or legal, or legalistic) argument.

Supporters of the movement to end the equalisation once and for all (I am one of them) will have to wait for another chance. And then another, and then again: for many reasons, the decision isn’t Alberta’s alone. It’s not enough for the Wild Rose Province to say we told our bankers to stop issuing our cheques to you. It takes two to tango, and a change like that would require agreement from those who would be losing the money they feel (or think, even) they had deserved.

Fat chance of that happening without a shootout.

As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) noted, reforming this program (they call it unfair and unjust) is going to take more than winning the referendum in Alberta. The federal government will have to come to the table and hold good faith negotiations with Alberta and the rest of Canada’s premiers.

The CTF calculates that equalisation as it exists today costs each and every Albertan $650 this year alone. A tidy amount, to be sure, and only the politicians on the receiving end know where the money’s going. For a four-member family (Dad, Mom, plus two kids) it equals $2,600 a year. To have this amount under your pillow or not, that can make a significant difference. Even more importantly if your kids still believe it’s Santa who brings them their Christmas presents, Nobody has told them yet it’s you who pays the piper through your nose, frantically thinking about putting bread on the table next month. And you don’t want to break their hearts, either.

Don’t think governments are here to help. They are here to do whatever their ideologies tell them, and if it happens to help those who employ them, that is: you, it wasn’t by design, it was sheer coincidence.

In the case of the Alberta referendum, Canada’s buffoon-in-chief is perfectly aware that Alberta’s premier has not a leg to stand on. Jason Kenney has danced to Trudeau’s tune so long, he has the steps down pat. The jester at 24 Sussex Drive doesn’t have to be a genius to be aware of this.

The CTF has put together an online petition that says (verbatim, bold characters in the original):

To the Prime Minister of Canada,

Just as able-bodied citizens shouldn’t spend their lives on social assistance, neither should provincial governments.

But that’s exactly what’s happening with Canada’s Equalization program. Some provincial governments are treating the program as a crutch and see no problem with receiving handouts from other provinces forever.

Québec has indicated they will not develop their energy resources because they’d have to share money with the rest of Canada. Other provinces are receiving bonus Equalization payments for having high debt loads.

That’s not right.

We the undersigned, demand the federal government reform the Equalization program into a “hand up” system and cut disincentives that stand in the way of progress. All provinces should be expected to develop their economies and resources to the best of their ability and aim to stand on their own two feet.

End of quote.

Sign it if you want to feel better. Sign it if you want to feel that you are contributing to Canada’s better future.

But if you really want to be useful, make sure you’re not lazy come next election and join the line-up leading to the ballot booth. That’s the only place where you can make your voice count.

It’s also the only place where you can scare the government into doing what’s right for their employers, such as you.

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