Alberta premier wise to delay fair deal report given Ottawa’s COVID aid: NDP

Alberta premier wise to delay fair deal report given Ottawa’s COVID aid: NDP

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition leader says it’s a good idea for Premier Jason Kenney to delay releasing a report from his ”fair deal” panel, given the federal government has outshone his efforts to help Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our premier’s primary strategy and tool for supporting Alberta through the pandemic is to stand back and wait for the federal government to step in and do the heavy lifting,” the NDP’s Rachel Notley said Thursday.

“So if that’s your strategy, I would not be throwing political darts at them by releasing a stale-dated political toy.”

The report, said to reflect the input of thousands of Albertans on how the province can attain more leverage and political and financial independence within Canada, was sent to Kenney’s cabinet last week.

On Saturday, the premier announced that the report, along with the United Conservative government’s response to its findings, would be delayed until his government can turn its full attention to it.

“I’ll admit I haven’t yet had a chance to read it myself, because we’re all, around this table, preoccupied with dealing with the pandemic and the economic crisis,” Kenney told a Facebook town-hall audience Wednesday night.

“Which is why we have decided to delay the public release a little bit until we get past the worst of the pandemic.”

The panel was announced by Kenney in a speech last November shortly after the federal election.

Kenney said Alberta had been there for Canada through billions of dollars in transfer payments over the years, and Ottawa was hindering development of the province’s wellspring oil and gas industry. Alberta had to do what it could to ensure its own economic viability.

The panel polled Albertans on a range of issues, including a provincial pension plan and establishing a provincial police force.

Kenney stressed the solution is not separation from Canada, but working to attain a better relationship within it. Some criticized him for creating a panel that gave legitimacy to separation sentiments, while others said the panel was a handy release valve for those wanting to leave Confederation.

The panel, which included UCP legislature members and former Reform party leader Preston Manning, did online surveys, met with interest groups and held townhalls that wrapped up just before the pandemic led to restrictions and shutdowns.

Notley said the panel was never on an earnest fact-finding mission, but rather served as a shiny bauble for Kenney to deflect attention.

“The panel and the report is mostly a political tool that Jason Kenney put into play … to try to distract people’s frustration and anger from the fact that he was not actually creating jobs,” she said.

“He was losing jobs well before the pandemic.”

The federal government and the province have delivered financial aid programs and tax deferrals to businesses and workers in the face of COVID-19, including a federally backed 75 per cent wage subsidy for employers seeing steep drops in revenue.

Kenney has been urging the federal government to do more to support oil and gas, aviation and tourism industries.

Kenney’s office, in a statement, responded to Notley’s remarks.

“Unlike the former premier who has ample time to throw petty barbs, the premier of Alberta is preoccupied dealing with the pandemic and related economic fallout which is so adversely affecting Albertans,” said spokesman Harrison Fleming.

“And of course Albertans’ government will continue standing up for our province, both now and in the future.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
Halloween spirit out in the City of Wetaskiwin

City of Wetaskiwin residents show off their Halloween decorations

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

(Pixabay photo)
Spoooky, scaaaary: The ultimate Halloween-in-quarantine playlist

All the costumes, trick-or-treating and spooky-season fun is essentialy off the table due to COVID-19

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Most Read