You may be worried about your pension, and Ontario’s finance minister is too, but Alberta Premier Danielle Smith seems to be having fun (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Like any teenager acting out, Danielle Smith must be delighted to have the entire country in a swivet about her government’s preposterous claim that even though Alberta has only about 16 per cent of Canada’s population less Quebec, which has its own pension plan, the country owes it 53 per cent of all the money in the Canada Pension Plan investment fund.

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy (Photo:

But, you say, Alberta’s premier is 52 years old!

All I can tell you in response is that undeniable fact is that Ms. Smith’s plan to pull Alberta out of the CPP and set up her own more expensive and less reliable version of the same thing must mean that some of us are more in touch with our inner adolescent than is normal.

Yesterday, Ontario’s Conservative finance minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy, wrote a letter to his federal counterpart asking her for an “urgent meeting” to discuss the threat Alberta’s plan poses to the CPP – and not coincidentally to literally millions of Canadians and perhaps the country itself. 

By the end of the day, Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal, who also happens to be the deputy prime minister, had agreed. She got the support of Nova Scotia Finance Minister Allan MacMaster, a Conservative, seeing as his province is currently responsible for chairing the Council of the Federation. 

I guess this is sort of like the neighbours getting together to decide what to do about the frat house down the street where there’s a noisy party every night until the wee hours and beer cans are scattered in the street every morning. 

Federal Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In his letter, Mr. Bethlenfalvy noted that “while we will always maintain our respect for Alberta, our government firmly supports the CPP and shares your serious concerns with Alberta’s proposal to withdraw from it.” 

Well, no kidding! But let’s give the man a little credit – that part about respecting Alberta, at least as long as the United Conservative Party clown show is in charge, has to be a diplomatic exaggeration. (And to think, UCP founder Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford used to go around joking about how they finished each other’s sentences!) 

For the rest, though, we can take Mr. Bethlenfalvy at his word. “We believe this proposal could cause serious harm over the long term to working people and retirees in Ontario and across Canada,” he said, a point of view that is extremely difficult to dispute. 

Plus, he didn’t say but might well have been thinking, our voters would erase us if we allowed you to get away with this shit!

Everybody’s sending open letters these days – it started last week with an exchange between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ms. Smith – so Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner sent one to Ms. Freeland, too. 

Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“We welcome all good-faith, rigorous analysis of the CPP Act withdrawal formula in advance of that meeting,” he said. This is pretty rich considering the UCP’s mendacious and misleading campaign to persuade Albertans to go along with Smith Government’s screwball plan to get its hands on the CPP and, as the premier used to say before the idea was under so much scrutiny, use it to prop up the fossil fuel industry. 

Just what the meeting can hope to accomplish, or even what will be on the agenda beyond eyerolls and headshakes at Albertans for electing this gong show, is not clear. 

I suppose it can’t hurt to have finance ministers from a variety of parties and provinces point out to Mr. Horner that even if there was any truth of the ridiculous estimate cooked up by the research firm hired by the UCP Government, politically there is zero chance of their voters allowing them to get away with handing it over to Alberta.

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Allan MacMaster (Photo: Nova Scotia Legislature).

Perhaps they could also point out that 2019 briefing note prepared for then Alberta finance minister Travis Toews, the one that said Alberta’s share of the CPP’s assets would come to about 12 per cent of the pie. 

So, they might say, if you go – and rest assured we won’t let you back in – you’ll be getting a sum small enough that all your promises about Alberta pensioners being paid as much or more as they get from the CPP now will be revealed as the deceitful fantasies they are.

Perhaps someone from the New Brunswick could also explain to Mr. Horner in simple terms that if the UCP thinks busting up the CPP is an excellent way to persuade the family that owns that big refinery in St. John to use dirty but ethical Alberta bitumen instead of sweetly fungible but theocratic Saudi crude, it probably won’t work out very well. 

At this point, what the UCP is hoping to achieve by sticking with this idea is almost as uncertain as what the finance ministers hope to accomplish by yakking about it.

Abacus Data CEO David Coletto (Photo: Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada).

According to a recent Abacus Data poll, the idea is unpopular everywhere in Canada, and it’s even more unpopular in Alberta than the rest of the country. Of course, that’s just because we’ve had more time to think about it out here in Wild Rose Country. 

But it’s interesting that, according to the survey, a 52-per-cent majority of Albertans, 90 per cent of whom had heard of the idea, thought it was a bad one. 

When you get to the over-60s – a group known for getting out to vote, and voting for Conservatives when they do – 64 per cent thought it was a terrible idea. 

“While Albertans are overwhelmingly aware of the proposal, with 90 per cent having heard about it, the broader Canadian population seems to be largely uninformed,” observed Abacus CEO David Coletto. 

But that’s about to change, and Canadians in the rest of Canada are going to hate it too – especially when they learn that part of the UCP’s goal, in the words of Barry Cooper, a University of Calgary political scientist and one of the authors of the strategy that animates the UCP’s pension plans, is “to hurt the rest of the country … to inflict a little pain on Canada.”

At this rate, it seems unlikely that Ms. Smith’s promised referendum on the pension hijacking will ever happen. In the meantime, though, she has everyone paying attention to her. 

Join the Conversation


  1. As Oscar Wilde once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. So in this regard, I suppose Smith has achieved something.

    It has also set off a flurry of letter writing, the likes of which has not been seen since PM Harper and Ontario Premier Wynne exchanged a lively correspondence for a while. At the time it was felt by both of them that it energized their bases, but alas both of their political careers did not last long after. Perhaps there is a lesson there for our current correspondents.

    In any event, I can’t imagine a 10 against 1 meeting will go well for Smith. I also don’t think her ridiculous scheme will gather much sympathy in the rest of Canada, threats seldom do. I suspect even some Alberta Conservatives will start to tire of and wonder about Smith’s schemes.

  2. What’s the matter with kids today? hmmm hmmm hmmm

    So , Finance Minister Horner (formerly minister of “Agriculture & Irrigation” )
    sends a letter to the DPM/FM
    and says come to Calgary.
    A wee bit presumptuous, I thought, since Ontario’s minister had called for the meeting with the Federal minister. But hey, what do I know about political protocol .

    What I do find ‘interesting ‘ is the end of his letter to C.Freeland —………

    “Canada benefits when it’s finance ministers convene regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern ,and I encourage you to bring the discussion of a potential APP, along with the other issues identified above , to this table in a timely way. ”

    IMHO, if it was me, I would be telling that upstart young whipper-snapper to go pound { }.
    Okay, I’ll save that one for the NH meme file, but seriously ,what the bleep is going on with the antagonistic, holier than thou attitude with some of these ministers from Alberta?
    Almost every time one of them makes the news , I think of the song “Put another log on the fire…..”

    Footnote– CTV news Calgary
    ” out of the 2900 people who responded, only 20 said yes to the APP ” ,
    so about those #s ???

    1. I haven’t read the complete “Art of War” by Sun Tzu, but snippets abound. Here’s one:

      “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

      I’m pretty sure it might contain some wisdom about not going into the enemy’s territory to hold discussions about the upcoming battle. Smart people already know this.

    2. Hi randi-lee. Those numbers from CTV are irrelevant to Smith and Anderson. They know what they want, they want it now–and to them, that constitutes a natural law.

  3. A provincial pension plan for Alberta is as ludicrous of an idea as it can possibly be. It is full of holes, problems, lacks logic behind the reasoning for it, and is only going to cause more problems down the road, for Albertans, and for Canadians, if it were to ever proceed. The UCP knows this, but they don’t care. Danielle Smith lives in a fantasy world, which is so devoid of reality. There are people who blindly come to her defense, and the defense of the UCP. Nobody will be better off, because of this. In fact, nobody is better off with the UCP in power, other than the greedy friends of the UCP, who can’t keep themselves out of the money pit. It is mind boggling how people can support the nonsense that the UCP dishes out. In any Postmedia newspapers in Alberta, and in Canada, the columnists suck up to the UCP, and questioning what they do wrong, practically doesn’t exist. Letters given to newspapers, such as The Sun, have people saying that Danielle Smith and the UCP are right, and others, like Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley are wrong. Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley get blamed for everything. Even the comment sections of these newspapers are full of people who think that Danielle Smith and the UCP are just wonderful. Pierre Poilievre is also someone they endorse, and they are led to believe that he will make things better. Anyone that does call out what these pseudo Conservatives and Reformers are doing wrong, gets called nasty names. You can’t get anymore foolish than this.

  4. Note— also in the Tyee

    ” Can we trust elections Alberta to give voters the truth on pensions?”
    Charles Rusnell

  5. Interesting article in the Oct. 25 Tyee about whether Albertans can trust Elections Alberta to conduct an impartial referendum.

  6. Hello David,
    As I said earlier, I don’t see why the CPP should give Alberta any portion of CPP assets. Workers paid into it and employers paid into it on behalf of individual workers. The assets belong to individual workers. No province should be “owed” a share. workers who have paid into CPP should receive their pensions from the CPP.
    If Alberta wants to set up their own pension plan, I would think that they could. But, there is no reason to change how workers who have paid into it will receive their pensions in the future
    Negatively affecting the stability of the CPP and the people who have relied on it being there for them should not be entertained.
    It would seem to me that Danielle Smith’s sabre rattling about possible Alberta sovereignty, threats to leave the CPP with unrealistic benefits for Alberta, and even a moratorium on solar power would be destabilizing for Alberta and would discourage financial investment in Alberta.

    1. Hi Christina. I don’t see why they should give Alberta’s UCP/TBA/FAS government the time of day. But, sadly, the original CPP Act included an opt-out clause, because the Ontario government demanded it.

      Trevor Tombe gave a brief summary of the history of CPP revisions in his preliminary analysis:

      (Note: Tombe’s paper was published in a peer-reviewed professional journal. Compare its tone with that of the UCP propaganda.)
      The opt-out clause is still there, in the revised and improved CPP Act of 1997. So yes, there is a mechanism that makes it possible–UNLESS we can force Smith, Anderson and Cooper to abandon this idiotic plan.

      1. Hi Mike,
        Do you know the terms of opting out? Is Alberta, which didn’t contribute to the plan, entitled to any of its assets? Or is that something that is completely decided by negotiation? I don’t know what the legislation says about this.

  7. Danielle Smith got everyone’s attention, but to what end?

    Alberta will remain unchallenged in the meathead Olympics? Stupidest people alive.

  8. I had noticed that in a CBC article on this very topic that “Ms. Alberta Excited Utterances of 2023” was claiming that the Federal Government was dragging it’s feet on providing her ‘majesty’ with an alternate $$ number for her to sneer at.

    Just because she seems to have the ability to pull incredible numbers out of her nether regions for her supporters to marvel at – it takes time (and a lot of it) to actually calculate what would be a fair number to use and which variables should be given weight in it’s calculation.

    The public statements on this topic that her predecessor and herself have made concerning where the funds will be invested have made it clear that helping largely foreign oil companies to continue and increase their operations at minimal cost and inconvenience (to themselves) is their top priority.

    Perhaps Ms. Alberta Excited Utterances should pay attention to actually fixing the existing health care system instead of breaking it further. Seniors are also not thrilled that the UCP decided to reduce their benefits while raising ‘out-of-pocket’ costs to them. While Kenney only used earplugs once, this premier seems to have had them implanted when it comes to ordinary residents and taxpayers in this province.

    1. Hi A.O. You’ve touched on the terrible dilemma of the fact-checkers. By the time you’ve proved that, “Hey, that’s total bullshit!” it’s too late to convince anyone.

      There’s an old saying: “A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets out the door.” We need an updated version.

      “A lie gets 100 million ‘Likes’ before the truth can log in.”

  9. This whole Alberta conservative APP/police force/fire wall idea truly is the howl of an enraged 12 year old not getting what they want. And now, they are going to trash the house, and run away – and “Boy, are you guys gonna be sorry, and miss me so much when I’m gone”. Delusional. Immature. Irrational. Pathetic. Annoying.

    The utter narcissism of many UCP citizens of the province with the lowest taxes, one of the highest standards of living, and highest provincial average income, is breathtaking, and all because of the geological lottery win that put riches under their feet. As a friend of mine once said to Ralph Klein “You know that YOU didn’t put the oil in the ground, right?”

    That these clowns are willing to spend billions to set up and duplicate many long standing, well managed services is the antithesis of conservatism, with probable outcomes being lower than what we now enjoy. Just pure simple, expensive spite.

    Being an Albertan is merely an address on your mail. You are only an Albertan when you live here, and you can come or go as you please. Being a Canadian, and a citizen of one of the great countries of the world, is a gift you were born with, a point of pride when travelling, when cheering on our Olympians, a shining light to others on how to do it right, and being privileged to wear that label for life, even if living elsewhere. We tend to downplay our citizenship, but we know we belong to a special country.

    I’m betting that most of the UCP/TBA folks supporting this nonsense haven’t been forced to think hard about things very often, haven’t travelled that much to see how others live, and truly think that they are some how exceptional because they work 50 hrs/wk.

    It is unfortunate that the opposition in this province does not get much media coverage to express their utter contempt for this adolescent UCP tripe. And it makes me laugh when the federal government, federal agencies, and the national media politely and logically point out to the rest of the country what a bunch of donkeys the leadership in Alberta is. And the asses are mad they are being exposed as shallow and selfish.

    It’s time for the decent people in this province to affirm that they are Canadian first, and Albertans a very distant second.

  10. C’mon the rest of Canada. Please save us from Batshit and her UCP fascists. We desperately need your help to keep her from stealing our CPP. Please help.

    1. I cannot speak for all Ontarians but in these here parts if Mr. Peepers were PM and proposed giving any of the assets of the Canada Pension Plan to anybody he’d need more bodyguards than Donald J. Trump.

      1. Tom: I expect that’s why Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s Conservative finance minister, sent his epistle to Chrystia Freeland. DJC

      2. Tom in Ontario—- as I was following up on the story about what kind of an apple, Mr Peepers…was eating (the tyee/ Dr Steve) and how the Conservatives are now selling tshirts because of the “international” media attention , I came across 2 sites that carry PP merchandise. After initial reaction of LMAO, I’m still shaking my head— it’s beyond me to find the proper words.

        First tshirt was:
        PP as “Ottawa vice ” circa the Miami show…….
        are you SERIOUS ??? hahahaha !!!!

        Second tshirt was:
        PP , as Captain Canada ????
        I’m guessing, there was no logo.

        Given d’rumps NFT super hero sales, I just about fell off my chair laughing.

        So, I suppose our very own Captain Canada wouldn’t need body guards.

        Oh! how I wish we still had newspapers that have the political cartoons ….

  11. It’s important to realize the difference between a truculent teenager and another creature who never grows up: the malignant narcissist. The MN thrives on attention, good or bad, black and white thinking and winning at any cost, regardless of facts and consequences. Logic and facts mean nothing. Lying is the path to winning.

    The MN does not play by the rules of civil society. The MN stops at nothing, except a narcissist injury, a blow to the ego, utter humiliation. In other words, the rules of engagement with a MN mean attacking the person, not their argument. Civil people often fail to understand. The MN needs a mirror. What they do, you reflect back.

    The MN will respond with narcissistic rage, so others must be prepared to walk away.

    Malevolence is their game. Evil is real. Fighting evil means putting the gloves on. We’re talking boxing gloves, not white gloves.

    1. Got it.

      So the best response to DS when she talks about the APP, or most anything really, is laughter.

      Or, is it better to keep repeating “Danielle who?” And “A pee pee what?”

  12. If only we had some sort of national energy project where oil was pulled out of the ground in one part of the country, refined in another, and exported in another with the federal government ensuring fair prices and good jobs for all involved.

    1. Sadly, that kind of integrated national industry probably isn’t allowed anymore, because of international trade agreements.

      1. Screw em. The idea they could compel us to pay if we just refused is kind of laughable actually. We plead the agreements because it suits our betters, international law doesn’t mean a lot. Ask america.

        The REASON we don’t stand up to these idiotic kleptocrats is because we built the system to enrich them. It’s Why this country exists and until the nominal left realizes that we will lose over and over and over.

  13. The duck is dead in the water.
    The rub it seems might be that it will be the UCP running the referendum and we all know they think they know what’s best for Alberta even in the face of popular opinion and are willing to “make it happen”.

  14. Yeah, this must have gratified Smith and Anderson–at first. Now, it’s starting to feel like a pile-on in the schoolyard. First, the overview:

    Now, the professional opinion of (some) pension experts, from the web site NOTE: please read the fine print in the banner, top of page.

    Friends, this is one we should be spreading around. When the non-CPP pension administrators and actuaries are dissing Danielle, it’s time to listen.

  15. Well folks, this is what happens when the teacher leaves the classroom for more than a couple of minutes. It’s a fifth-grade riot. When the principal bursts in, the brats will freeze in place—and then start shouting, “HE did it! Not ME!”

    Smith has two degrees, issued by the University of Calgary. (Look ‘em up in Wikipedia.) The founding members were Tom Flanagan, Rainer Knopff, Ted Morton, and Barry Cooper. These guys and their acolytes have had a shocking amount of influence on Canadian politics.

    I’d be interested to hear how other poli-sci and economics profs, in other universities, feel about the “Calgary School” of political science and economics.

    In the above article, Flanagan is quoted as remembering Danielle Smith as “one of his best students.” I wonder how he judged that. Since her earliest days as a public “servant” in that dysfunctional, disbanded Calgary school board, Smith has shown herself as utterly rigid and dogmatic. She has a whim of iron, a hankering for conspiracy theories, “no crazy radar” (her own words!), a skin thin as tissue paper and a brain of bean curd.

    Lastly, we cannot emphasize often enough. The Free Alberta Fantasy has nothing to do with helping Albertans. It’s a power play by a clique of self-described separatists who think they have all the answers. The plan to rob the CPP is 1) stupid, 2) based on lies and 3) solely intended to create a slush fund for the UCP/ TBA/ FAS leaders to play with.

  16. Wasting taxpayers money is no concern of theirs , proving there is nothing conservative about them, and they certainly don’t give a damn about anyone’s wellbeing other than their own. Helping their friends steal our wealth is their mandate, and it truly is unbelievable how stupid their followers are and they are mainly seniors who should be a lot smarter but aren’t.
    It isn’t hard to understand what the Germans and the Japanese went through before the Second World War with their leaders ramming polices down their throats and using lies and fears to keep the stupid people in line. To quote an 86 year old former German university professor in 2003 “you will never get rid of Ralph Klein or these right-wing extremists there are twice as many idiots dumb enough to support them as there are you and me who aren’t that stupid.” He died of a heart attack three days after I met him. Sometimes I think I can hear him saying “ I told you so”.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: I remember when the Wildrose party came into being. Someone who wasn’t interested in becoming a politician, was asked to join the party. They too weren’t happy with the Alberta PCs. When Danielle Smith started showing praise for Ralph Klein, this person backed off, because they knew how bad he was. I remember reading somewhere that this person was talking to Don Getty, and Don Getty said that he regretted letting Ralph Klein join the Alberta PCs.

  17. Unfortunately for every 20 posts on this site, there are 2000 on the G&M supporting Danni. I can’t imagine the ratio on that foreign owned screed.

    In any case, there will be tons of cough drops for sale at the Con-vent-ion.

      1. My apologies for the error of syntax and synapse. I was, of course, referring to the Nazional Putsch not the Mope and Wail.

    1. Bot farms remain a thing and if you’re naive enough to think the UCP/TBA cohort ain’t using them I still have pieces of the Walterdale bridge for sale …

  18. “We welcome all good-faith, rigorous analysis of the CPP Act withdrawal formula in advance of that meeting,” says Nate Horner, member of the UCP, a political party that has never acted in good faith.

  19. Is it possible that the same geniuses are also responsible for the mess that is the U.S. Postal Service?
    Both messes look to have the same patrons.

  20. Alberta leaving the CPP is a diversion. It’s the equivalent of ‘oh look, something shiny.’ While attention is focused on the CPP debate, people aren’t seeing the UCP government’s real plans and actions. Like privatization of health care and education. Approving open pit coal mining in the Rockies. Massive giveaways of taxpayer money to oil & gas companies. And who knows what else from their libertarian/Christian nationalist playbook?

  21. The seniors in our coffee group certainly had a lot to say this morning about these blind and stupid phoney conservatives, screwing Albertans out of another $7.5 million to fill the pockets of their friends, and treating their supporters like morons.
    American oilmen during the Klein years told me that they needed to steal as much of Alberta’s oil as fast as they could before the people woke up and realized how badly they were being screwed. That was in the 1990s and the idiots still haven’t figured it out, and are still letting them do it.

  22. Given the UCP’s history of using distractions, you have to wonder what they are doing in the background, now that everyone is focused on the CPP/APP debate.

  23. While the debate over a putative Alberta Pension Plan continues, the Alberta Government is also spending OUR MONEY on a contentious series of scare-tactics ads about the federal government’s draft Clean Energy Regulations, alleging without evidence that if those regulations go ahead we will be faced with recurrent brownouts and blackouts.

    The ads are pervasive and intrusive: I saw many repeated on commercial breaks during last night’s Winnipeg-Calgary CFL game on TSN (the last game of the regular season), and again on CTV’s streaming channel while watching an old Criminal Minds rerun. They’re also on CBC’s The National and even on YouTube.

    I wonder how much it’s costing all of us for them to run these ads — which clearly took sometime to produce, given the production values apparent in them — over and over and over during multiple commercial breaks on a live sports broadcast. I detest hockey, so I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet my last dollar that those same ads are also running on NHL games, and probably on TSN’s NFL coverage as well. That’s big bucks.

    1. FTWMI—
      “Ottawa’s proposed electricity regulations will make electricity unreliable &unaffordable. We could have blackouts during our coldest and darkest months and power bills could skyrocket up to 4x higher than they are today. Visit ‘Tell the’

      Since Dani & Co follow d’rumps playbook, I’m sorry to say, do not be surprised when the power bills do go up by that much, that loan has to be paid. And since we don’t know the terms, I’m guessing time penalties ? and then the usual, blame Trudeau!! he sets the electricity prices in Alberta, doncha’ know …

        1. DJC… Hmmm, very interesting comparison; will have to try and find the appropriate floppy disks and fire up the ‘ol Commodore. Something, something…. in the meantime, about that beach chair down at ‘Pigeon’ Lake….anyone you recognize ?Something about a white robe and fuzzy slippers, it was a rather vague description.

  24. ooPg & Gerry
    ….so the kinky goop train is escaping to the countryside of the Canadian Rockies, carrying a load of waltzing Matildas, caterwauling the ‘Possible dream’ , while back on Calgary’s electric ave , the crypto pin ball machines are keeping Jed & family dazzled- black gold jackpots— ding ding ding !!!

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