​Kenney slams Legault on equalization comments: 'If you want to benefit from our oil and gas wealth, stop blocking pipelines'

Image: Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shot back at Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Monday as the two continue to spar over pipelines and Canada’s equalization system.

Kenney posted a video to Twitter over the weekend repeating his threat to hold a referendum on the country’s wealth-distribution system “if we don’t get pipelines we need & repeal of anti-Alberta legislation like C-48 & C-69.”

The Alberta Premier is frustrated that Quebec receives significant dollars from Alberta through the formula ($13.1 billion in 2019), but continues to block the prospect of new oil and gas pipelines through its borders.

Legault was quoted by the Montreal Gazette on Monday saying that “We have the right to equalization…Equalization has been in the constitution since Day 1 of Canada. The idea that we might let equalization drop is out of the question.”

Kenney issued a statement responding, saying that Legault’s comments reflect a misunderstanding of the history of equalization, and Alberta’s demand for fairness in the federation.

“Equalization has not ‘been in the Constitution since Day 1 of Canada.’ The principle of equalization was included for the first time in the 1982 Constitution Act, which Quebec refused to sign.

“It is historically inaccurate to say that ‘When Quebec got into Canada, equalization was in the plan. It is part of the original deal. We can’t change the original deal.’ In fact, equalization began as a unilateral federal program in 1957, and has undergone many significant changes since then,” Kenney said.

“Albertans have made a net contribution of over $620 billion to the rest of the federation through their federal taxes since 1957. We make a net contribution of approximately $20 billion to fiscal federalism each year. Alberta has been a great source of shared prosperity and social progress in Canada, and we hope to continue to be in the future.

“Our call for a fair deal in the federation simply means this: If Ottawa and other provinces want to benefit from Alberta’s resources, then they must not oppose the transport and sale of those resources. To put it more bluntly: If you want to benefit from our oil and gas wealth, stop blocking oil and gas pipelines.”

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