'Stirring up sentiment': Trudeau pours cold water on Kenney’s equalization vote
It’s a red-hot political topic in Alberta, but the prime minister says it’ll take a lot more than a vote in just one province to end equalization in Canada.
Albertans voted on the issue Monday, in a provincial referendum that was tied to municipal elections.
The governing UCP heavily promoted a “yes” vote on the question of removing equalization from the country’s constitution in an effort to get a “fair deal” for Alberta.
“To eliminate equalization, which is what’s proposed in Jason Kenney’s referendum, is something that cannot be done by the federal government,” Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
“It needs to be done by the federal government working with seven provinces or territories representing over 50 per cent of the Canadian population.”
The final results were expected to be released Oct. 26, but partial results released by some municipalities showed about 60 per cent of Albertans who voted agreed with Kenney.
“We are looking for a majority to say ‘yes’ to a fair deal. This is a commitment we gave Albertans in the last election,” the premier said on Tuesday.
“If we do see that endorsement of the referendum, we would then move forward with a motion in the legislature…to ratify this request for a constitutional amendment, and then move forward with Ottawa on those negotiations.”
Trudeau countered by accusing Kenney of making the issue “incredibly political.”
He again pointed out that the current deal was written by Stephen Harper’s conservative government, in which Kenney was a cabinet minister.
“He himself contributed and approved of the current equalization formula that he’s now stirring up sentiment against a few years later. I find that the kind of politics that is not necessarily helpful,” the prime minister said.
Equalization sees some tax money collected by the federal government redistributed from wealthier provinces to lower-income ones to ensure a basic level of service for all.
Because of high wages, Albertans usually pay more into the program than they receive back in federal transfers.
Kenney has said Alberta has concerns over billions of dollars its residents pay, while provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec obstruct oil and pipeline projects that underpin that wealth.
With files from The Canadian Press