Albertans will have an opportunity to have their say on equalization, daylight saving time, and elect nominees to the Senate when they vote during the Oct. 18 municipal election.
In addition to voting for Senate nominees, the province has announced that Albertans will be asked if the principle of making equalization payments should be removed from the Constitution, and whether Alberta should end the practice of changing clocks twice a year.
“Alberta has been the engine of Canada’s prosperity in recent decades. We have contributed through our federal taxes over $600 billion to the rest of Canada,” said Premier Jason Kenney in reference to equalization.
“What is particularly unfair is to subsidize public services in other provinces that have stood in the way of the development of our resources, the key industry which helps to pay for equalization and all of the other fiscal transfers in the federation.”
He said Albertans are proud of their nation-building role. But it’s frustrating to be providing on average $20 billion a year through federal taxes while living through a prolonged recession and contributing to other provinces with higher rates of economic growth, lower unemployment and bigger fiscal surpluses.
He said voting on equalization does not automatically change it. But the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that if a province has a clear question and a clear majority in favour of a constitutional amendment, then the federal government has a binding obligation to negotiate in good faith with that province.
“In a sense it takes a page out of Quebec’s playbook and how it has become the strongest and most autonomous province in the Canadian federation.”
Kenney said a provincial police force holds great promise to improve community policing and response times. But more consultation will be needed with Indigenous communities and municipalities.
No decisions have been made, but it is possible to only invite Albertans policed by the RCMP to vote as they would be directly affected, compared to communities, like Calgary, that have their own police force, he said.
“Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland all have their own provincial police force that provide strong, effective and accountable community policing. And of course Quebec since the mid-1960s has successfully operated its own public pension program.”
As more governments across Canada and the United States are bringing forward legislation to move to permanent daylight saving time, the province says it’s time for Albertans to vote on the issue.
“As Alberta first adopted daylight saving time following a referendum in 1971, we owe it to Albertans to give them the same opportunity to make their voices heard now that we are considering another change,” said Minister of Service Alberta Nate Glubish.