EDMONTON -- Edmontonians kicked off Alberta’s “Fair Deal Panel” process Tuesday night, with speakers divided on whether the panel even needs to exist.

“I am more worried about Edmonton getting a fair deal from Alberta, than I am about Alberta getting a fair deal from Ottawa,” said one speaker referring to Edmonton electing only one UCP MLA.

Another man applauded the process, calling for a referendum on Alberta separation.

“Canada is broken,” he said. “It’s now a confederation of regions where one part of Canada gets more than the other! And we’re paying for it.”

Premier Jason Kenney announced the panel on Nov. 9, 2019, saying it will attempt to advance Alberta's economic interests nationally, including promoting the construction of energy pipelines.

Other ideas include withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a provincial agency, passing a provincial constitution, and creating an Alberta police force.

“There are people who believe that the status quo is fine, there are people who think we should separate,” said panelist Donna Kennedy-Glans. “I think the panel believes that there are a lot of other choices between that polarized continuum.”

Kennedy-Glans, a former Progressive Conservative MLA, defended the process citing polling results that she says show at least one-third of Albertans are considering separation.

“I think any political party would have an accountability to unpack that and understand where those sentiments came from and how we can address them,” Kennedy-Glans said.

The panel heard from more than 25 members of the public who registered to speak at a microphone. About 200 were at the meeting, held in St. Michael's Heritage Hall in northeast Edmonton.

“I think it’s time for the government to put their big-boy pants on, and even if they don’t like the outcome of the federal election, find a way to work with the federal government,” said one man at the microphone. “Keep Alberta in confederation and make it work!”

Nine other town hall meetings are scheduled, and that info is available here.

The “Fair Deal Panel” is expected to report recommendations to the government by March 31.