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Alberta Pension Protection Act passes third reading in early morning vote

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The Alberta Pension Protection Act passed its third reading early Thursday morning.

Bill 2 mandates the government hold a referendum on leaving the Canada Pension Plan, but does not demand the result be legally binding.

The Alberta NDP on Wednesday introduced an amendment to change that, but it was voted down by the United Conservative government's house majority.

Just after midnight, the legislation passed 45-32.

Another amendment proposed by the NDP and shot down by the UCP would have mandated any income generated from an Alberta pension plan stay with the fund. Bill 2 does not dictate what happens to income generated from a provincial plan once it is running and the NDP has said income could be used on political projects. Finance Minister and bill sponsor Nate Horner said Wednesday "assets transferred from the CPP to an Alberta pension plan, and future contributions of employers and employees, would solely be used to set up and operate a provincial pension plan." 

The NDP had said it would vote against the legislation no matter its final form, but was introducing amendments in an attempt to "make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear."

The government prevented any filibustering by the NDP Wednesday evening by introducing and passing a motion to limit debate.

Debate over the soundness of an Alberta pension plan pre-dates it being introduced in the legislature on Nov. 3.

A government-commissioned report in September estimated the province would be entitled to more than half of the assets of the Canada Pension Plan if it were to exit because, in part, Albertans have historically been paid less from the fund than they have contributed. The Alberta government has said a provincial plan could provide bigger benefits at a lower cost.

CPP's investment board estimated Alberta's share would be about 15 per cent, closer to the proportion of Albertans in the national plan.

And the federal government has warned Alberta leaving the CPP could destabilize it.

The Alberta government held five telephone town halls to hear feedback and take questions from Albertans. It did not deliver on a promise to hold in-person events.

With files from The Canadian Press 

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