BLOC HEAD: Blanchet says Alberta does not send cheque to Quebec
Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet has attacked Alberta Premier Kenney by saying that he needs to “start explaining things with truth.” Blanchet went on to say that Kenney had been spreading “false information” about the province’s equalization payments, according to Global News.
An indignant Blanchet told The West Block that Canada “does not send a cheque to Quebec … I would be glad if he started explaining things with truth instead of some false information as we see.”
The parties that could potentially hold the balance of power in the Liberal’s minority government had very different takes on Thursday’s Throne speech when they responded in the House of Commons, Friday.
While the separatist Bloc Quebecois stood in defence of Quebec’s autonomy, the New Democrats assumed their traditional role as defenders of the poor and marginalized.
Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet took particular issue that the speech lumped Quebec in with provinces and territories as one of “the regions of Canada.”
“Let’s make something clear. Quebec is not a region of Canada. Quebec is the land that the Quebec nation shares with a number of First Nations,” Blanchet told the House of Commons, reminding MPs of his party’s raison d’etre.
“Although we may not be aiming specifically for this… Quebecers know that the Bloc is a party based on the concept of independence.”
Blanchet also said that in defending Quebec’s autonomy on matters of healthcare and environmental assessments, “The Bloc is not only representing the national assembly of Quebec but also the voices of the other provinces.”
The separatist party leader also said that Quebec voters turned to his party “because they can’t identify with any federal party.”
“They’re not all sovereigntists, but they’re nationalists,” he said.
Bloc support at the polls tripled their seat count (10-32) in the Commons while the number of NDP candidates were nearly cut in half, from 40 down to 24.
New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, whose enclave was relegated to fourth party status after October’s election in a Bloc-surge, accused Liberals for “profiting off student debt” while waiving government loans to corporations.
Singh was also skeptical about the Throne speech’s promise to lower the cost of telecommunications services by 25 percent.
“In Canada we pay…some of the highest cellphone and internet fees in the world. It’s not a coincidence because the government has allowed the telecoms to do this,” said Singh.
“Access to the internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity…(and) the cost of cell phone and internet services are impeding people in their everyday lives.”
Affordable and available housing, as well as making good on a national pharmacare plan that consecutive Liberal governments have paid lip service to, also formed Singh’s response to the Throne speech.
“Across Canada people are making difficult choices every day, about cutting their pills in half or going without the life-saving medication that they need,” he said.
“What is it going to take for the Prime Minister to keep his word and to deliver pharmacare that covers all Canadians?”
The New Democrat leader also suggested that Trudeau talked the talk on indigenous reconciliation, which also prominently featured in the Throne speech, but that the government’s actions fell short of walking the walk.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” said Singh. “(They) ignore a human rights tribunal ruling, delay the funding to end the discrimination and continue to take indigenous to court.”
At the beginning of October, the federal government filed for judicial review of a Canadian Human Rights tribunal ruling ordering $40,000 in compensation to First Nations children taken from their communities under the on-reserve child welfare system.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) appears to be preparing for a fight for increased autonomy with the Trudeau government.
In their first annual meeting, members voted on through informal straw polls on a series of issues aimed at getting a “fair deal” from the Trudeau government.
From the province’s potential tax collection agency to the police force, trade relationships, pension plan, and firearms watchdog, members voted in large groups to support autonomy and further pull away from Ottawa.
A panel weighing those ideas is to complete its report by March 31.
“We are not seeking a special deal. We are simply seeking a fair deal,” Premier Jason Kenney told party faithful.
While not backing the secession movement, Wexit, the move to fight for autonomy is not surprising. Polls have placed Alberta’s desire to potentially declare independence close to if not higher than the separatist-prone province of Quebec.
The leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pascal Berube, has attacked Jason Kenney and his UCP in an opinion piece in the Calgary Herald.
In the article, Berube declared that Kenney was lying to Albertans about Albertan taxes paying for Quebec’s social infrastructure. Berube claimed that Kenney’s statements were “simply not true.”
Berube also took time to rebut Kenney’s indignation over equalization payments—an issue that Kenney will put to a referendum. Berube said that equalization payments were calculated based on the province’s ability to generate tax revenue, and thus “Albertans should not complain about paying for any of Quebec’s social programs. It simply is not true.”
Berube went on to say that “Alberta is a bigger spender than its leaders would like you to believe … Alberta is not some libertarian’s dream, as some would like you to believe. The province is a perfect example of ‘big government.’”
By saying this, Berube has labeled Kenney and the UCP as hypocritical and manipulative.
What was more piercing, however, was when Berube attacked Kenney directly, suggesting that Kenney was “looking for someone or something to blame for his gigantic fiscal deficit.”
Berube went on to say that “Albertans need to realize that their leaders have let them down … he will seal his place as the proud heir of past leaders who drove Alberta to the brink of the fiscal precipice where it now finds itself.”
Berube’s attack is the latest incident in a war of words between the two provinces. Previously, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and CAQ leader Francois Legault had criticized Kenney and the Wexit movement. Blanchet, for example, has also disputed Kenney’s equalization claims, declaring that Alberta doesn’t “send a cheque to Quebec.”
Blanchet has also ridiculed the broad sentiment of alienation in the western province, stating that “the desire to do whatever they want with their oil might not be a sufficient reason to fuel a desire to become a country.”
The province of Alberta has been entirely rat-free for almost 70 years. Although rats, quite obviously, meander into the province, they never stay long enough to breed, according to the National Post.
Rats are not native to North America, migrating on wooden ships to the New World from Europe, along with their fellow European puritanicals and imperialists. Unlike humans, however, it took the species a significant amount of time to move inland—not reaching Alberta until the 1950s.
Rats are hardly optimal immigrants and they certainly wouldn’t pass Kellie Leitch’s values test. Alberta executed a planned eradication of rat-kind in the summer of 1950: creating a sabre-rattling, propaganda division and employing Albertans to kill of the critters, using whatever methods they deemed necessary.
To this day, there are still no rats in the province. If a rat is spotted in the province, it is every Albertan’s duty to call up the exterminators and to alert the officials.
Throughout history, rats have wreaked havoc upon civilized, bipedal society. Take, for instance, the island of Hawaii, where rodents have destroyed the natural eco-system.
In Europe, rats were believed to have spread the bubonic plague, despite the disease actually being spread by the fleas that lived on them.