WEXIT: Wheatland County passes ‘Alberta First Referendum’ calling for independence
Residents of a southeasterly county in Alberta passed a resolution calling for changes to the confederation on Tuesday, all with the threat of holding an independence referendum.
“Wheatland County Coun. Jason Wilson’s resolution, pressing the provincial government to insert Alberta’s constitutional rights within the confederation, will now go out to other municipalities across the province,” reports CTV News.
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell has called Wexit “nuts” and that it was created to sow “unnecessary division.”
Speaking to Global News, Campbell stated that “adult” conversations were necessary with policies like equalization, and yet the dialogue has been anything but mature.
“We’re a complex country and we are always going to have issues that need solving,” she added. When Campbell was prompted on Wexit she gave out an incensed screech: “It’s nuts! I’m sorry, it’s a dead-end, so Alberta’s going to separate and that’s going to make it easier to get access to open water? That is a slogan designed to make people angry.”
Campbell’s comments come after the surging support in western separatism deriving from Justin Trudeau’s re-election. Since then, a notable online presence has grown in support of the Wexit movement, and the premiers of western provinces have cautioned Trudeau of the stark consequences of western alienation.
Campbell finished by saying that the Wexit movement “was not how grown-up people address problems … I see this and I think grow up!”
A Twitter search of Campbell’s tweets on Quebec show no similar criticism of the separatist movement in that province.
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.”
When Blanchet was asked about the Wexit movement he stated that he understood “that some people in western Canada don’t feel comfortable in the presence of this country … but the desire to do whatever they want with their oil might not be a sufficient reason to fuel a desire to become a country.”
Blanchet’s comments is the latest escalation in the war of words between the Quebec and Alberta premiers. Last week, after leaving a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau, Blanchet told a scrum of reporters that he would not indulge western Canada’s desire to build an “oil state”.
Due to Kenney making a point of criticizing equalization payments, even going as far as to threaten a referendum, Blanchet’s position will further antagonize an already disenfranchised western Canada
Since 1960, Alberta has paid $600 billion in equalization payments to Ottawa, much of which has then relocated to Quebec. Over the last few years, Alberta’s economy has begun to slow down, even falling into a light recession this year. Despite this, they still have had to pay $23 billion each year for the past five years.
Blanchet’s comments, then, add additional salt to Alberta’s wound, especially as Quebec posted a $4 billion surplus.
Alberta’s tussle with bad weather isn’t over yet.
Following our report last week which placed Alberta as one of the coldest places on Earth, there is some improvement, if only a touch.
Instead of a colossal and cold snowstorm, large chunks of the province will receive freezing rain.
While better than the previous week, the still dangerous weather has prompted an Environment Canada warning.
|Fort McMurray – Fort MacKay|
|Grande Prairie – Beaverlodge – Valleyview|
|Hinton – Grande Cache|
|Peace River – Fairview – High Prairie – Manning|
|Wabasca – Peerless Lake – Gift Lake – Cadotte Lake|
|Whitecourt – Edson – Fox Creek – Swan Hills|
According to Environment Canada, the warnings may need to be expanded today as the freezing rain transitions eastwards.
The government agency recommends taking precautions while driving as surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is requesting nearly $1.7 billion dollars from Ottawa following the collapse in oil prices that has plagued the provincial economy for years.
Kenney’s request is a timely one, as Alberta continues to seek avenues to renegotiate Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa and Canada as a whole, looking to gain more autonomy from the federal government, according to the Globe and Mail.
The Kenney government is looking to receive $252-million from the Fiscal Stabilization Program, as aligned with Alberta’s 2019 budget. Though Ottawa has yet to greenlight the funding, Kenney has made it clear that he expects much more.
Alberta was the recipient of over $250 million from the Fiscal Stabilization Program in 2016 due to the province’s soaring unemployment rates, while provincial budgets also reached the red, ending in a deficit. The former Notley government filed a request in September of last year, asking Ottawa for a second payment under the same program.
Kenney is now asking that Prime Minister Trudeau quickly approve the request, which as already passed a year in waiting time. Kenney is also asking that Trudeau send the larger cheque he is seeking for his province. According to Alberta’s finance ministry, the province is ineligible for a third year of funding due to the economic bounceback after 2016.
Kenney told media on Saturday that the funds, when received, would go towards helping Alberta’s economic shortcomings, as the province is yet to fully come out of the 2016 recession. “It was designed to be an equalization rebate for the have-provinces when they have a sudden and unexpected decline in revenues.”
That equalization rebate is one that Kenney has recently gotten into verbal fisticuffs over with Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchette.
Recently, Kenney responded to Blanchette’s comments that Quebec would not support Alberta’s venture into a separatist movement, one that he says his party had no interest in comparing to Quebec’s previous movements, and one he has little interest in aiding.
“If they were attempting to create a green state in western Canada, I might be tempted to help them,” he said. “If they are trying to create an oil state in western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us.”
Kenney responded by telling the Bloc leader to “pick a lane”
“If you are so opposed to the energy that we produce in Alberta, then why are you so keen on taking the money generated by the oilfield workers in this province and across Western Canada?” said Kenney, the keynote speaker, to the sold-out crowd at the Westin Calgary.
“Pick a lane. Either you can say as Quebec that you’re no longer going to take the energy and equalization resources that come from Western Canada’s oil and gas industry … or you can do what we do as Canadians, coming together to support each other, especially in times of adversity,” said Kenney.
His fiery speech, which was given at a luncheon for the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, received a standing ovation.