Kenney says Legault has shaky grasp of history when it comes to equalization

QUEBEC — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shot back at his Quebec counterpart Monday, saying Francois Legault does not understand the history of equalization.

On Sunday, Legault defended equalization against criticism from Alberta, saying the program was part of the “original deal” when Quebec entered Confederation in 1867.

Kenney pointed out that the first equalization system was introduced in 1957, and the principle of equalization was included in the Constitution in 1982.

Legault had said Quebec, which received $13.1 billion in equalization payments in 2019, has a right to equalization, and no province can unilaterally change the formula under which Ottawa distributes the money.

He acknowledged that other premiers, whose provinces are running budget deficits, expressed unhappiness at last month’s premiers’ conference in Saskatoon.

“There is something I don’t like,” Legault said. “There are premiers of rich provinces who look at Quebec and say: ‘We are sending you a big cheque. We’d rather keep the money here.’ “

In a Facebook post Monday, Kenney corrected Legault on his history and took him to task for opposing new pipelines while his province benefits from Alberta’s oil and gas wealth.

“If Ottawa and other provinces want to benefit from Alberta’s resources, then they must not oppose the transport and sale of those resources,” he wrote.

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