What is wrong with this man? Where does he come off?
Alberta would pull out of the federal equalization program rather than see the other provinces benefit from its oil and natural gas resources, Premier Ralph Klein said.

Klein said on Wednesday he's ready to fight with the eastern provinces to keep Alberta's resource revenues out of the equalization program, which sends federal money to poorer provinces so they can provide services such as health care.

At a meeting next month, other premiers are expected to suggest that Alberta's oil revenues can be included in the calculations that determine how much cash each province gets from Ottawa.

"This is political showdown," Klein said. "This is also a constitutional issue. Alberta has control and authorization and authority over its resources."
Now, according to this CBC story, Klein actually can't do this and has no control over Alberta's equalization payments in the first place.
But University of Alberta political scientist Steve Patten suggests Klein can't really do that, and his bluster won't go far among the premiers, even if it works to whip up long-standing anti-eastern sentiment among Albertans.

Equalization payments come from federal government revenues, such as federal income tax, not from Alberta's bank accounts, Patten said. Pulling out, he said, would have no effect on the program.

"When we in Alberta talk as if Alberta — perhaps the premier — sitting down and writing a cheque a couple of times a year to the poorer provinces, we're really misrepresenting what the formula is all about. That's not the way it works," he said.
So the stance is bluster - but the sentiment beneath it speaks volumes. Alberta's oil? That's Canada's oil, Ralph.

This kind of talk just fosters divisiveness, feeding the view of some Albertans that their provinces' wealth is actually their personal wealth, and they have no obligation to share it with the rest of the country.

Hey, let's all move to Alberta and become instant oil barons. And since Alberta's not part of Canada, we won't have to pay taxes or give anything back! What's that you say? Alberta is part of...?

Since Klein doesn't really have control over the transfer payments, encouraging regional divisions must be his real goal. That and looking tough, I suppose.

Not exactly incisive political commentary, I know - I'm just venting. I'll leave it to you all to fill in the blanks.


Canrane said...

I think you nailed it when you say he just wants to look tough. Sounds like desparation to me. Klein is no longer riding high within his own province anymore, so he's trying to set himself up as the man who "stood up to big bad Ottawa for Alberta".

It's really no different from what Martin tried to do with the US in the last election. Disgusting no matter who does it, and it just takes focus away from real underlying issues. It never ceases to amaze me that politicians think we're so dumb that we'll fall for empty posturing like that.

James said...

It never ceases to amaze me that politicians think we're so dumb that we'll fall for empty posturing like that.

The sad thing is that empty posturing works so much of the time.

Canrane said...

The sad thing is that empty posturing works so much of the time.

*sigh* Too true. Politics: euphemism for empty posturing? Perhaps I should have said blatant posturing. Because this seems more obvious than "normal" politician-speak in my mind.

Lone Primate said...

What really galls me is that for years and years and years and years, Ontario's been the economic engine of Canada, and when the cream was scraped off and handed around, no one in Ontario made noises like this, and everyone, including Ontarians, took it for granted that this was how it was supposed to be. Ontario had, and continutes to have, certain economic advantages that can't themselves be evenly distributed across Canada, and so the money is instead... to a greater or lesser extent.

With Alberta, it's a different story somehow, and it really perplexes me. I don't understand why so many people in Alberta are so... well, I'll say it... so fucking mean-spirited about sharing their good fortune. They're like the uncle who pulls up to Thanksgiving dinner in his Cadillac and hand over a bottle of pop or the cheapest hootch he could find and sits himself down at the common table... meanwhile, he's got his 25 lb. bird at home in the freezer 'cause there's no goddamn way he's sharing that with you deadbeats. What gives? Why is it like this? I'm not saying everyone in Alberta has this attitude, but the number who do carry on this way is prominent enough. It's as though they consider it their due, just because they happen to be on one side or another of a set of lines we literally drew out of thin air a hundred years ago when we carved the place out of the Northwest Territories.

Now given the circumstances, you'd think the attitudes would be the reverse; that Ontario, which has had to build its fortunes, literally, on industry and hydroelectricity and shipping, would be the mean-spirited and selfish place, and Alberta, where all they have to do is stick a long enough straw in the ground and bingo, out flows the money, would be the happy-go-lucky spendthrift of Confederation. But instead they sit around and chortle about, oh, what are we gonna do with all this extra money, whattayah think, a gold-plated ass-scratcher for everyone in Alberta, and that's what it's going to be if the rest of the country starves... because what's ours is theirs and what's theirs is theirs. Man, am I tired of that.