Alberta Politics
The ‘”Fair Deal Panel” trying to look interested last night in Fort Saskatchewan — Tany Yao, Miranda Rosen, Drew Barnes, Moin Yahya, Donna Kennedy-Glans, Stephen Lougheed and Oyssia Lennie (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Loudest message from Fort Saskatchewan ‘Fair Deal Panel’ town hall? Hands off our CPP!

Posted on January 10, 2020, 2:55 am
7 mins

The visit of Premier Jason Kenney’s “Fair Deal Panel” to Fort Saskatchewan, an industrial oil town just northeast of Edmonton, may have been intended to be a separatist open-mike night when it was added as a stop on the travel itinerary by the UCP’s brain trust.

Whatever they expected when they ginned up their maximum-pressure campaign on the federal Liberals, though, that’s not what they got yesterday evening when about 100 souls braved temperatures creeping close to minus-30 to go to the town’s recreation centre and offer their two-bits’ worth about Alberta’s role in Confederation.

Ms. Lennie (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Some of the folks who showed up, of course, may have just wanted to get a peek at Preston Manning, the godfather of the Canadian right and the panel’s most prominent member. Alas for the curious, Mr. Manning took a powder, as he did the night before in Fort McMurray too.

But despite the panel’s baked-in assumption Alberta’s getting a raw deal from the rest of Canada and its apparent effort to lead witnesses to the conclusions the government wants, plenty of people got up on their hind legs, proclaimed their love of Canada and advised the panel members they thought the province needs to start trying to work with our fellow citizens instead of just yelling at them.

“We need policies that build bridges, not walls,” as one speaker put it.

That thought even seemed to have occurred to a number of speakers at the two-hour, town-hall style meeting who said they felt Alberta isn’t getting a fair deal but were pretty sure making threats and throwing tantrums wasn’t going to make things better.

That isn’t what I was expecting when I drove to Fort Sask, and nor was the surprising number of town-hall participants who advised the panel the time has come for Alberta to join the grownups of Confederation and adopt a sales tax like every other jurisdiction in the country.

“The ‘Alberta Advantage’ may be a luxury we can no longer afford,” said one man before calling for implementation of a sales tax.

Mr. Yao (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But if any message came through with crystal clarity for MLA panel members Tany Yao, Miranda Rosin and Drew Barnes to take back to their UCP caucus-mates, it was this: “Leave our pension funds alone.”

Or, more to the point, as several speakers put it, keep your hands off our Canada Pension Plan! And (one also said) we don’t trust the Alberta Investment Management Corporation either.

Well, you’ve gotta love an Edmonton crowd, where progressivism runs deep even in a small-town on the periphery where the demographics lean hard toward grey hair and pale skin.

But panel staff indicated the idea that Mr. Kenney should keep his paws off the CPP comes up everywhere. So keep that in mind when you read the final report of the panel in March. If it suggests otherwise, that should set off your instinctive baloney detector.

Another thing that must come up a lot is the depredations of the UCP budget. Otherwise, why would panel chair Oryssia Lennie, a former senior civil servant, warn participants: “This is not the time to talk about the budget”?

“If you wish to speak about matters pertaining to the budget,” she advised the crowd, “please contact your MLA.”

Ms. Kennedy-Glans (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

More than one speaker pleaded for the environment. One reminded her neighbours that separation would mean you’ll need a passport to go to Kelowna. A couple of municipal politicians scored the UCP for trying to keep them from taking federal money without getting provincial permission — talk about adding red tape! And one young man astonished everyone with his passionate plea to decriminalize sex work. (Just think of all the tax revenue, he observed.)

And, yes, there was a little hard-core group of Wexiters who applauded each other’s remarks noisily and asserted, for example, that “the climate change agenda scam is being used to push socialism, which inevitably turns to communism.” Or, “the most ardent federalists seem to be taking talking points out of a union manual.”

One such fellow even advised telling the rest of Canada: “It’s a nice country you have here. Too bad if something happened to it. By the way, we’re bringing the pension back.” (You really can’t make this stuff up!)

But of the 27 folks who registered to speak — one guy previously observed by your blogger assisting George Clark of #Kudatah fame at another event spoke twice — I counted 16 who defended Canada as it is, 10 who thought constitutional reform is needed (about half of whom had drunk the Wexit Kool-Aid), and the sex-work guy.

Every defence of the CPP got a round of spontaneous applause.

The UCP grievance campaign, as one man summarized it, is just so 2003. “Albertans do not want to leave the country, they don’t want their own pension plan, and they don’t want to lose the RCMP,” he said. “We’re in the best country in the world and it shouldn’t be messed with!”

Jason Kenney, take note!

Like Mr. Manning, panel member Jason Goodstriker was also missing. The session was attended, though, by the remaining members of the panel, Stephen Lougheed, Donna Kennedy-Glans, and Moin Yahya.

30 Comments to: Loudest message from Fort Saskatchewan ‘Fair Deal Panel’ town hall? Hands off our CPP!

  1. lost in the colonies

    January 10th, 2020

    Sadly Kenney/UCP could care less what Albertans want or think about his policies and the touring panel is just a PR exercise.

    He got his mandate – by cheating, lying, distorting and lies of omission to stir up the under/misinformed and almost reflexively conservative voting Albertans – and he’s going to do as he wants.

    The only good thing is that his obtuse and disproven economic policies and stupidities like the “war room” are needlessly making things worse and hopefully quite a few Albertans will wake up from their petrostate stupor and start paying attention.

    Reply
    • Actually from The Fort

      January 10th, 2020

      Just leave the province then, commie.

      Why the hell did the Edmonton Left head to the Fort to whine and cry?

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        January 10th, 2020

        Talk to your neighbours, sir. They were there in good numbers. DJC

        Reply
      • Lol

        January 11th, 2020

        Why are UCP cult members such immature little sycophants?

        A few crazies on social media does not constitute a movement.

        Reply
      • Paul

        January 11th, 2020

        So it seems all the Wexit crowd has to offer is childish insults and name-calling. “Commie”…. lol… you couldn’t come up with something more original than that?

        Don’t be surprised when Wexit gets about 1-2% of the vote in the next election.

        Reply
      • lost in the colonies

        January 12th, 2020

        not a commie but in your apparent understanding of the political world at the very least a “radical leftist” lol

        in the nOt wanna be republican, fox news world, i’d probably be considered a bit left of centre left
        there are quite a lot more of my type in AB than you might suspect scary i know

        not leaving sorry

        Reply
  2. Abs

    January 10th, 2020

    I call it, “Get your hands off my ASSets”. If there’s one thing that will fire up a revolt among worker bees of all stripes, this is it. Unite the wronged!

    Seems like even the panel members are growing tired of this political charade. Sick of it. Can’t be bothered to hitch up the dog and pony for the show.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    January 10th, 2020

    The unscientific poll here is not too far off from the more scientific ones which shows support for separatism somewhere in the 30 something % range. I think your analysis is probably sound and that divides further into a hard core Wexit crowd that are unlikely to ever be appeased and people who are unhappy in a more general way.

    I think the whole debate about the CPP is misdirection. Having the Alberta government take over the CPP doesn’t get any pipelines built any faster or resolve the other large grievance about equalization. It does however give the appearance of doing something, while really accomplishing nothing at all, which is one thing our career politician Premier is actually quite skilled at. This might not be so bad, but unfortunately, having Alberta take over the CPP does give rise to a number of other concerns that haven’t really been resolved. These include: How will the Alberta government manage it, can it really be done on an as effective cost basis with a smaller pool and will the provincial government interfere in investment management to the possible detriment of pensioners? This whole CPP debate is the classic example of a solution looking for a problem and a case of where most think the best thing is to not try fix something that is not broken.

    Maybe our Premier is getting tired of being a big fish in a little pond, but the solution to that is not to try do things like grab CPP pension money to expand his little empire here, but to just go back to the big pond. There is a leadership race currently going on for the Federal party he was previously part of and given the caliber of candidates that have announced so far, the ambitious Mr. Kenney must be a bit tempted to do that.

    Reply
    • Lars

      January 10th, 2020

      “…the ambitious Mr. Kenney must be a bit tempted to do that…”

      And the rest of us should not resist the temptation to egg him on. We’d be rid of him, and it’s quite possible that having him as its leader might be the final blow for the CPC in its present incarnation. So he’d be doing Canadians as a whole a favour, taking the current ReformaTories down with him and leaving the field open for something like the old federal PC party to reconstitute itself.

      Reply
  4. Gail

    January 10th, 2020

    I remain stumped that anyone would endorse putting in a sales tax when it disproportionately harms low income people. Why you ask? Because they will pay a greater percentage of their income toward a sales tax.

    Reply
    • Valerie Jobson

      January 10th, 2020

      I think that depends on whether they do something like rebates for low income people, etc. Depends how it is designed and if it applies to necessities of life or luxury items.

      Reply
      • Kang

        January 11th, 2020

        Ah Valerie , spoken like a true boomer whose income has come fluttering out of a brown paper envelop most of her life. Pointless to remind you the poor and lower middle income people have what is called a “cash-flow” problem and quarterly rebates do nothing for that.

        But hey, the UCP just gave a several billion dollars a year corporate tax cut to the richest companies. Notley gave them lower royalty rates three months after she was elected. Unemployment is still up, no new jobs and investment etc. and government is financially crippled. The corporations make all the wealth and they should pay the very highest tax rates. Why that might even encourage them to invest in their businesses rather than send the money to foreign shareholders.

        Reply
      • Gail

        January 11th, 2020

        It really doesn’t depend on any of those variable. A sales tax by its very nature – the basic principle is taxing consumer goods – is regressive and penalizes low income people. Things like rebates or not applying it to certain things do not take out the basic unfairness of it. Alberta can do a lot better and has a lot of other options for raising funds than a sales tax of any variety.

        Reply
    • Jim

      January 10th, 2020

      Likely there would be a rebate like with the GST and carbon tax, what is left of the middle class would carry most of the load.

      Reply
      • Gail

        January 11th, 2020

        Assuming rebates would help is very privileged. A rebate means that the person receiving it has spent the money and now must wait a period of time to receive that money back in the form of a rebate. Not everyone – especially low income people – have the financial ability to wait for a rebate.

        The middle class should not be carrying most of the load for any tax but that is another debate.

        Reply
        • Jim

          January 18th, 2020

          Interesting you use the word privileged, I have noticed this term come up a lot lately and be echoed as a way to dismiss an opinion or person. Just an observation as I find it interesting how these terms enter discussions and like to find the origins and the original users intent. Where did you first hear this term and why do you parrot it as a response to a one sentence post? What is your intention behind using it? Do you think that by claiming the post or poster is privileged you strengthen your position against a sales tax?
          Not to drag this out but it is something to think about the next time you use a word or phrase. The phrase I have found most interesting is climate denier, which really doesn’t make sense no one is literally denying the climate. Where did this originate and what was the original intent of the person or group? What are the goals of labelling a person a climate denier? It appears to have been first used against those that question the human contribution to climate change with the obvious intention of dehumanization and equating them with holocaust deniers. So who benefits from this?
          The same question could be asked of you as to who benefits from your use of the word privileged?

          Reply
      • James Kohut

        January 11th, 2020

        I could not imagine that some one living on the streets or on the land would get much of a rebate that would help them out. Rebates don’t cover all taxing related costs. I can remember buying a new vehicle as a student shortly after the GST came in. My rebates never came close to even covering the GST on the vehicle.

        There are other solutions to sales taxes that should be debated by the people. In a process of real participatory democracy, where people make the decisions, the people should decide what taxes are implemented. Maybe the people would prefer the government to obtain non tax revenues by owning businesses such as solar farms, wind farms, refineries or gas pipelines. Look at the Norway model for ideas. We need people to debate and have democratic input into the budget, like what occurs in Porto Alegre, Brazil, rather than slapping on taxes willy nilly in an undemocratic manner.

        Taxing polluters would be a good idea. For example, people who drive high emission vehicles could be taxed higher for vehicle registration.

        Reply
        • Abs

          January 12th, 2020

          In Denmark, there are government disincentives for bigger vehicles, enough that most people choose small vehicles. Denmark also has impressive numbers of large wind turbines out in its harbours.

          Here in the land of the F350 pulling a trailer with two snowmobiles to the office in summer? Not a popular idea. (And the snowmobile/trailer arrangement in small-town Alberta continued until the next winter.)

          Reply
  5. Just Me

    January 10th, 2020

    With Presto on hand I’m sure those gathered were expecting his usual magic tricks, passing around an empty KFC bucket and watching it fill with cash. It’s a miracle, I say. Reeeeeefoooooorm!

    In the end what the panel of knuckle draggers got was calls to keep your greasy pea-picking fingers off the CCP. They all know Kenney would shove that whole wad into some hole, given half a chance, then declare the Alberta Advantage works because CEOs bonuses went up. Yes. Trickle-down floats all boats. Yada yada.

    Word is getting around…Kenney is a glad handing POS who is planning an exit back to Ottawa first chance he can get. Actually, this June, so mark the month on your calendars.

    All my predictions are guaranteed with no money back, UCP style.

    Reply
    • Abs

      January 10th, 2020

      Oh, yes, the empty KFC buckets! I was there to watch that. Wasn’t it something…kind of like a cross between an out-of-body alien abduction, with a quick stop for fast food, because the aliens forget to eat supper. Those were the days of my misguided youth, wanting to watch the calamity unfold, instead of going clubbing or something. What made it so perfect was the Colonel with his wee beady eyes and the smug look on his face on that “Kentucky Fried Chicken” bucket. I think Presto was hoping the buckets still contained the addictive chemical that makes you crave it fortnightly.

      Reply
      • James Kohiut

        January 11th, 2020

        I wonder how much of the money from the KFC buckets landed in the hands of party criminals rather than the party.

        I can remember putting a $50 bill into a hat of a National Party function. At the time I did not know putting in a $50 was illegal. All donations over $20 have to be registered and accompanied by a donation receipt. It would have been likely that someone would have done something with the $50 bill, like pocket it.

        Reply
  6. tom in ontario

    January 10th, 2020

    Would Albertans want people like the present provincial government in charge of their pension security? Judging by the train wreck Jason Kenney has created with his War Room, who’s to say he wouldn’t cobble together “pension experts”, composed of the Witt Brothers, Half, Nit and Dim?

    Reply
  7. Jim

    January 10th, 2020

    Having gone to one of these events before Christmas I can tell you I left feeling very hopeless for the province. Speaker after speaker who didn’t know or bother to learn how the system actually works and had a very poor understanding of the history of the province. The stand out for me, other than the sex work guy wonder if he is the same person touring the province, was the self described “just a redneck from Alberta”. Claiming to be unemployed for 5 years for reasons that never included himself. Pleading for the government to do something, guess retraining programs don’t count, so he could I assume get his old job back. I wonder what employer would hire someone who sat around for 5 years? Kenney isn’t here for the long term, the oil companies aren’t here for the long term, if we really want change in this province stop electing people that are just looking to make as much as they can and move on. Getting their hands on the pensions is just more of this, does anyone really believe when the money is handed over it won’t disappear? I am glad to see that some spoke out against this. The Wexit crowd will always be the loudest in the room but do you really think Kenney wants to leave the country he hopes to one day lead?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 10th, 2020

      it’s the same gentleman. He told me he’s attending all of the panel’s appearances in the province to make his argument. DJC

      Reply
      • Jerrymacgp

        January 11th, 2020

        If he’s been out of work for five years, how the heck is he paying for his travel costs to tour the province & attend these panels??? That’s not a cheap project, you know …

        It sounds fishy.

        Reply
    • Abs

      January 11th, 2020

      I’ve long believed that many Albertans take a short-term view because they come here for the short term: get in, make money, get out. Many have no future view beyond the next year-end bonus. I hope things will be different this time.

      My family roots are here, and have been for more than 100 years. So disappointed in the short-term greed and selfishness that seems to pass for normal here. No sense of community beyond the front door. In for the dollar, in for number one.

      Reply
      • Gail

        January 12th, 2020

        I hate to say this but I really think the big contributor to lack of community is the mentality fostered by oil patch of move to Alberta to make money then move back to your home province to live.

        Reply
  8. James Kohut

    January 11th, 2020

    I am glad to hear that some real smart Canadians showed up to the event described above in Fort Saskatchewan. Reading the comment about building bridges rather than walls is very important.

    The Americanizers of Alberta, like Jason Kenney and Preston Manning, who want to cause problems within the Federation need to be put in their place. The economic problems in Alberta were created by American influenced people voting Conservative in the Province over the last 4 decades. No Alberta Conservative Premier ever had much of an ambition to build value added industries around our oil industry like other smarter states. It was too simple for Conservative Premiers not to think and just build pipelines to the USA. The Conservatives also gave Alberta’s oil wealth away to their American cousins foolishly rather than following the Norway or Saudi economic models. Building pipelines only south to the USA rather than east or west when the social licence existed was just stupid and only benefited the shareholders of those pipelines along with the American economy. Only Prime Minister St. Laurent and Trudeau Senior had the vision to build pipelines east or west in the distant past. We all know what happened when Trudeau Senior tried to get rid of foreign oil coming into Canada- the Americans caused political havoc in Alberta and laid off tens of thousands of people in protest in the 1980’s (This was a perfect example of the political problem of having an industry that is controlled by Americans or foreigners rather than Canadians). If it was not for Prime Minister St. Laurent in the 1050’s building the Trans Mountain Pipeline westward by an act of Parliament, the price of Alberta oil would be even cheaper today. Thank God that Prime Minister had some intelligent forward looking vision that Alberta Conservative voters lack otherwise we would be in a more dismal economic position.

    Albertans must understand their history in order to understand how we got into this economic problem that exists today that Jason Kenney is using to create undemocratic political separatist havoc. If Alberta separated from Canada, we would not last 2 years as a country and then would likely become a part of the United States of Trump clowns. That is what the Wexit clowns want.

    More town hall meetings are required like the one in Fort Saskatchewan to get more common sense out to the public.

    Reply
  9. Patricia Marie Corbett

    January 11th, 2020

    Sadly, it is not just CPP, programs that include AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped), and human services programs like Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) and Family Supports for Children with Disabilities` (FSCD), are targeted. The projected budget includes a dollar a day less per person on AISH — that may not sound a lot to Mr. Kenny, but can mean much to a person on fixed income. Add in devaluing of education (keeping individuals ‘uneducated’could decrease potential to question authority) and subsequent difficulty in ability to move from poverty,
    and we are effectively becoming a 3rd nation country.

    Reply
  10. Gordo

    January 12th, 2020

    As being in attendance in Ft. Sask I feel that this exercise of looking for a fair deal is doomed from the start. The dog and pony show will not provide anything out of this except stipends for the panel members. Also from the moderator telling the attendees what they should talk about is offensive with this serious of a topic.

    Reply

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