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Time for a hard line Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2005

(continued from previous page)

First it should take immediate control of all provincial responsibilities which it has unwisely entrusted to Ottawa in the past.

These include provincial policing, provincial tax collection and Albertans’ share of the Canada Pension Plan.This proposal has already been promoted as the Alberta Agenda, and is widely understood and accepted.

Assuming provincial control of these three things opens the door to stage two.

If Ottawa still refuses to reform the Senate, the courts and federal spending, the provincial government would then ask Albertans in a referendum to support taking provincial control of federal tax collection, and remitting to the federal government only what the Alberta Legislature considers to be fair payment for desired federal services to Albertans.

Albertans pay some $10 billion a year more in federal taxes than they get back in federal spending, a net contribution that grows every year. (It consistently exceeds the Alberta government’s own resource revenues.)

This would come very close to a declaration of independence, because the essence of sovereignty is (among other things) the power to tax.

However,Albertans would probably see it for what it is – temporary leverage against Ottawa, not separation from Canada and from other Canadians.

The borders would remain open, the flag would still fly, the laws would remain otherwise the same, the signs in national parks would still be bilingual, and business would continue as usual. The only difference would be that after a date set by the Legislature, all tax deductions, including federal ones, would be remitted by force of provincial law to the provincial treasury until further notice.

Ottawa would denounce it as blatantly unconstitutional, but would have only three options:

  • Implement the specified reforms (Senate, courts and federal spending restrictions). 

  •  Put Albertans and their legislature under martial law and run the province from Ottawa. 

  •  Watch Alberta – and very possibly other provinces – leave the federation.

Which course the federal government would choose is impossible to predict. However, as Quebec has shown, Albertans can only come out ahead. There is but one long-term losing scenario for Alberta, which is to continue doing nothing.

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