UCP Takes “Action” on Equalization Referendum

The Fair Deal Panel Report did not make Equalization as its first and foremost recommendation.  It came in second and is put it smack-dab in the context of a Constitutional Amendment not an administrative tinkering with the “formula.”

Before we delve into the Recommendation itself to remove the Equalization Section 36 lets put the Constitutional Act and the amend implications in context.  Here is what Section 36 says:


Commitment to promote equal opportunities 36. (1) Without altering the legislative authority of Parliament or of the provincial legislatures, or the rights of any of them with respect to the exercise of their legislative authority, Parliament and the legislatures, together with the government of Canada and the provincial governments, are committed to

(a) promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians;
(b) furthering economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities; and
(c) providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians.
Commitment respecting public services (2) Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.

The Fair Deal Panel said to have a referendum on the “removal of Section 36.”  They do not recommend a change of how the regional disparities are calculated and equalization funds are applied.  They don’t suggest fixing Equalization, just get rid of it.

Here is the Fair Deal Panel Recommendation and the UCP government response:

Recommendation 2: Proceed with the proposed referendum on equalization, asking a clear question along the lines of: “Do you support the removal of Section 36, which deals with the principle of equalization, from the Constitution Act, 1982?”


  • Agreed to in principle.
  • Further work will be done to analyze what an appropriate referendum question on equalization would be.
  • This referendum could be held in conjunction with the 2021 municipal elections.

The Amendment of the Constitution Act of 1982 is covered by Section 38 and the requirements are known as the “7+50 Formula.”  That means the elimination of the Equalization provisions in Section 36 would require the support of 7 Provinces representing at least 50% of the population of Canada.

That is clearly a non-starter.  However, the national ejection of the Alberta proposal for removal of Equalization will be fodder for activating the Alberta Separatist Movement.

So what we have now is a sideshow of political theatre.  We are going to have a non-binding Alberta Referendum that will leave Canadians scratching their heads over why we are pursuing a Constitutional Amendment instead of a formula fix.

We will divide Albertans even further and potentially deeper over if we are getting the “respect” we deserve from Canada – which means respect from Prime Minister Trudeau to the Conservatives.  We will set ourselves up to be seen as spoiled and entitled whiners and drive foreign investment further away and spook domestic investment into a deeper coma when it comes to Alberta.

This is not what Kenney promised us and not what we voted for.  So what can we do about it?  Well, we can start by making sure the information Albertans get is accurate, factual, complete, and understandable around this and other Referendums that are forthcoming.

We can get the MOderate Progressive Albertans to show up and vote down the destructive Referendums.  We need to protect, promote, and preserve our Democracy through these pathetic exercises in abuse of political power.



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