The report from the Alberta Fair Deal Panel would essentially make the province a mirror of Quebec within Canada.
Struck in the pre-pandemic days, the panel finally issued its report after much delays and postponements a week ago today.
The report, the product of members holding hearings around Alberta, contains no fewer than 25 recommendations.
Some of those recommendations would require Constitutional amendments – which are unlikely – but many of them would not.
Premier Jason Kenney, for his part, is receptive to the report and says his government is willing to study the recommendations.
Such things as a provincial police force and an Alberta Pension Plan are well within the province’s power to establish.
The latter is of particular note because of the many opportunities it affords.
Alberta is a young province. Its residents are younger on average than other Canadians. As a consequence, citizens here contribute more to the Canadian Pension Plan than they receive. Retaining that excess money presents an opportunity.
The Quebec pension plan, after all, is a powerhouse of investment. It routinely see returns between seven and 14 per cent, outperforming the CPP.
In other words, an Alberta Pension Plan could provide the foundation for investment here in the province outside of Ottawa’s control.
Given the federal government’s headlong rush into green socialism, that would be a good thing.
Similarly, the province exercising more control over immigration, as Quebec already does, would help ensure that immigrants to Alberta met provincial employment needs.
A provincial police force, which Quebec also has, would help ensure that police here are more responsive to local needs.
One of the chief complaints of rural residents, after all, is that RCMP officers who currently provide police services are often transferred just as they are getting to know their jurisdictions.
The report, however, stopped short of endorsing a referendum on the province’s independence, although it did recommend one on equalization payments.
The latter, however, would be pointless, insofar as it would require a change to the Constitution to end.
What would be interesting is granting the citizens the power to demand referendums on issues of concern to them.
While Premier Kenney and his party may be lukewarm to asking Albertans whether they want to leave this country, there is growing support for that option. That support could easily produce demand for a referendum on independence if voters were allowed to petition such from the government.
As it is, supporters of independence have no recourse other than to vote for political parties that support separation – something that they know all too well would split the right wing vote and give the New Democrats yet another opportunity in Edmonton.
Either way, Alberta appears on track to rival Quebec in its quest to carve out a unique position for itself with Confederation.
That is a good thing. Quebec’s separatist movement has served the province well and its citizens enjoy the bounties afforded by Canadians’ fear of Quebec leaving.
It’s time Canadians feared the same of Alberta.