As soon as anybody in Alberta complains about equalization, you can rest assured that some haughty academic type will quickly spring into action and chide them with “You don’t understand how equalization works.”.
Now that Premier Kenney has formally committed to holding a referendum, we common slobs will have a great opportunity to be taught on the issue.
The Canadian equalization program is a convoluted mess and due to that, it is true that many folks indeed don’t fully understand how it works. Since that is the case, the ivory tower sorts who thrive on scolding commoners for their lack of understanding of equalization should be welcoming the Alberta equalization referendum with open arms. What better way to educate the unwashed masses than to have a pitched campaign held for over a month with pro and anti equalization sides making their case to the public on the issue?
Our imperious, learned classes are still upset despite this opportunity to educate those backwoods commoners through a referendum.
“It doesn’t matter what Albertans choose in a referendum!” they shout. “It can’t force Ottawa to change!”
This is true. A referendum is a great way to make a broad public statement though and again, it will help educate our ignorant souls right? When coupled with municipal elections, a referendum question isn’t a costly thing to add to the ballot. Of course, there are some left-wing municipal politicians who may not want a ballot item that may draw out conservative minded voters but that is a separate issue (and benefit of the referendum).
Our educated betters love to remind us “Alberta doesn’t cut an equalization cheque to Ottawa!”
This is indeed true. That doesn’t mean that equalization isn’t screwing us however.
Imagine all of the federal taxes collected from GST to corporate and income taxes all going into one big pot. The federal government then doles out transfers back to the provinces through a myriad of programs including equalization. It is through this method that the federal government has taken over $600 billion more tax dollars from Alberta than it has returned in transfers and services. So no, equalization never gets a dedicated cheque from Alberta. Ottawa simply takes it other ways. Quebec however does indeed receive an equalization cheque and it is almost always for the same amount that Alberta puts into confederation without a return.
Equalization is simply the one program where the government has specifically dedicated it to inter-provincial welfare and under the name of state-enforced economic equality (socialism) thus why it is such an odious symbol to we Albertans.
Let’s get on with the referendum. Let’s hash it out!
Educate us oh wise ones!
School us on how foolish we are to complain about pitching in so much to a nation that has now turned its back to us while we are down.
Then let’s see how we respond to this great learning opportunity when the question is formally put to us at the polls.
It will be a great educational exercise and a practice run for referendums on future issues.