Alberta Premier Jason Kenney delivers his State of the Province address to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce in Edmonton on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Kenney announced the creation of a panel that will examine ways to make his province more independent of Ottawa in a speech to the conservative Manning Centre on Saturday in which he rejected separatist arguments.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney delivers his State of the Province address to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce in Edmonton on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Kenney announced the creation of a panel that will examine ways to make his province more independent of Ottawa in a speech to the conservative Manning Centre on Saturday in which he rejected separatist arguments.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Kenney announces ‘Fair Deal Panel’ to advance Alberta’s interests, like pipelines

Kenney told the audience that separating from Canada would landlock Alberta, not make pipelines easier

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the creation of a panel that will examine ways to make his province more independent of Ottawa in a speech to the conservative Manning Centre on Saturday in which he rejected separatist arguments.

Kenney’s ”Fair Deal Panel,” which will include former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, will consult with Albertans on ideas such as establishing a provincial revenue agency, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a new provincial agency and establishing a formalized provincial constitution.

The point of the panel, Kenney explained, is to secure a fair deal for Alberta and advance Alberta’s economic interests, such as the construction of energy pipelines.

Kenney noted that several of the ideas are borrowed from Quebec, such as collecting taxes and seeking provincial representation in treaty negotiations that affect Alberta’s interests.

He said that none of the ideas would be implemented without Albertans endorsing them in a referendum.

Kenney told the audience that separating from Canada would landlock Alberta and not make it any easier to get a pipeline built to a coast, but that he sees the fear in Albertans eyes about their economic futures.

“It’s expressed most devastatingly in an increase in the rate of Albertans who have taken their own lives over the past five years. The per capita rate of suicide in Alberta is 50 per cent higher than it is in Ontario,” Kenney said in his speech in Red Deer, adding that economic woes are also contributing to a wave of rural crime and opiod addiction.

“So this literally for many people is a life-and-death question.”

ALSO READ: ‘It hurts’: Indigenous Alberta boy, 5, comes home with braid undone

Other members of the panel will include Stephen Lougheed, a businessman and son of former premier Peter Lougheed, as well as University of Alberta law professor Moin Yahya, First Nations leader Jason Goodstriker, Canada West Foundation chair Oryssia Lennie, and some members of Kenney’s United Conservative Party caucus.

Kenney’s speech was the keynote address at the conference, where three of four panels discussed the federal election result and what it meant for Alberta and the West.

In the days that followed the Oct. 21 vote, a simmering separatist movement in Alberta gained momentum under the “Wexit” umbrella, a name seemingly created to mimic the Brexit movement aimed at separating Britain from the European Union.

The group’s founder, Peter Downing, earlier this week filed paperwork with Elections Canada to form a federal Wexit Alberta party that could, in his words, do for Western Canada what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec.

READ MORE: ‘Wexit’ applies to become a federal political party

Kenney said the status quo isn’t acceptable, but that he and most Albertans don’t want to give up on Canada forever.

“So what is the alternative?” Kenney asked. “Bold action.”

The panel will conduct public consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan. 30. It will complete its report to government by March 31.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley responded in a statement that Kenney was “intentionally stoking the fires of western alienation in order to advance his own political objectives.”

The NDP leader also noted that Kenney never mentioned withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan during the provincial election last April.

“Alberta is part of Canada, and Jason Kenney needs to accept that,” Notley said. “This premier needs to cut the theatrics and get back to the job of getting Albertans back to work.”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo’s Mt. Benson with flares during icy rope rescue

Search and rescue team gets injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance

Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo students will don sweaters next week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School’s green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo’s NRGH

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All seniors in long-term care on the Island will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
UPDATE: Snowfall warning issued for Nanaimo area, up to 5 cm forecast

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo students will don sweaters next week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School’s green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

VIU’s health and science centre. (Vancouver Island University photo)
VIU to train 72 health-care assistants to work with seniors

B.C. Ministry of Health announces details of health career access program

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization, a non-profit, seeks to raise $8,000 for a play structure to help children remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization asking for help fundraising for play structure

Physical activities have been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, says non-profit

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

Most Read