Forgive me if I wax nostalgic about the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not for the confusion, fear and economic misery of the spring. But for the fact that the same confusion, fear and economic misery meant we heard nary a peep out of Alberta separatists.
For 10 weeks while Premier Jason Kenney pleaded for more and more federal aid those Albertans whose personal mantra is More Alberta, Less Ottawa were apparently happy with More Ottawa.
READ MORE: Are Kenneys Fair Deal complaints with Ottawa based on fact or fiction?
After holding rallies and making headlines last fall to rail against the federal government, the Wexit supporters fell silent as the federal government poured money into pandemic-beleaguered provinces, and none was more beleaguered than Alberta.
Well, now that provinces are gradually re-opening their economies and the federal government has stopped its daily announcements of economic aid, Wexiteers have emerged from their COVID-19 hibernation.
Those whose fevered dream is an independent Alberta have announced that two right-wing parties Wexit Alberta and the Freedom Conservative Party have joined forces to establish the Wildrose Independence Party. Not that they had much in the way of forces to commingle.
Membership numbers are fuzzy but the Freedom Conservative Party boasted 1,063 members while Wexit Alberta hasnt done much bragging about the size of its collective.
Their timing could have been better, though.
As separatists renewed their anti-Ottawa push, it became obvious Ottawa was pouring more aid into Alberta than any other western province.
In early July, Melanie Joly, the federal minister of economic development, said while British Columbia and all the Prairie provinces were applying for federal help, the demand is higher from Alberta.
READ MORE: Albertas government and opposition create toxic political atmosphere
And this week there was more awkward news for the Wexiteers.
University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, who has been researching federal/Alberta fiscal relations for years, wrote an op-ed piece declaring that for the first time in 55 years Alberta is getting more out of Canada than it is putting in.
Over the past decade, Albertans have paid about $20 billion dollars more in federal taxes per year than they received in transfer payments from Ottawa. Thats not because the system is unfair but because Albertans tend to be wealthier, healthier and younger.
But this year, thanks to a pandemic-ravaged economy and abysmally low oil prices, Alberta has become a fiscal catcher, not a pitcher.
Alberta and Albertans will be a net receiver of roughly $22 billion through the federal budget, says Tombe. Whats behind this shift? Massive federal spending on emergency measures to individuals and businesses, combined with much lower income and sales tax revenues raised from taxpayers. Alberta disproportionately benefits (in a narrow fiscal sense) from both.
This is also awkward news for Premier Jason Kenney who rarely misses a chance to bash the federal Liberal government for either ignoring or deliberately hurting Alberta.
Kenney is not a separatist. In fact, he has ridiculed the idea of separation, saying it makes no sense. However, he also plays a game where he stokes feelings of western alienation by assuring Albertans the provinces woes lie with federal Liberal policies not Albertas over-reliance on fossil fuels.
Mind you, during the peak of the March-April COVID-19 wave, while Wexiteers were biding their time, Kenney was biting his tongue while talking about Prime Minister Trudeau, his political nemesis.
READ MORE: Pandemic isnt over but Kenneys truce with Ottawa certainly is
Kenney even delayed until June releasing the report of the government-sponsored Fair Deal panel that looked into Alberta forming its own provincial police force, setting up its own pension plan and holding a referendum against the federal equalization program. He realized that releasing a report that thumbs its nose at the federal government while the province was still negotiating for more federal aid smacked of hypocrisy, if not stupidity.
When asked about Tombes article this week, Kenney tried to brush it off.
Obviously, this is a bizarre year, said Kenney. We havent seen a year like this in Albertas fiscal history since we went broke as a province in 1935.
He admitted Alberta has benefited disproportionately from the federal government but he still thinks the system is skewed against the province: I expect that when we get back into anything like a normal economic cycle post-COVID-19 that we will continue to face the structural challenge that Alberta has within the federation for the past five decades.
Put another way, if we get back to normal and Alberta is once again the wealthiest per-capita province in the country, Kenney will once again simplistically and cynically claim Albertans are being unfairly treated by the federal Liberal government.
CLARIFICATION:A previous version of this column positioned Melanie Jolys comments in relation to specific aid programs rather than federal funding more generally.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the authors alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.
More from iPolitics
Here is the original post:
- Boebert incapable of being an independent voice negotiating on our behalf - The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - October 8th, 2020
- How USAID Translates The Executive Order On Advancing International Religious Freedom Into Action - Forbes - October 8th, 2020
- The Case Against Trump: Donald Trump Is an Enemy of Freedom - Reason - October 8th, 2020
- D.R. Horton, Inc. to Release 2020 Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year-End Earnings on November 10, 2020 - Business Wire - October 8th, 2020
- Inslee, Culp meet in first and only governor's debate - Thehour.com - October 8th, 2020
- Everything We Just Learned About The Navy's Dubious Path To A 500 Ship Fleet - The Drive - October 8th, 2020
- Civil society raises alarm about IMF's continued backing of austerity amidst pandemic - Bretton Woods Observer - October 8th, 2020
- NCC to invite experts to CtiTV News hearing - - October 8th, 2020
- Candidates want to represent district in Statehouse - The Herald - October 8th, 2020
- The Toss-up: Virginia's 7th Congressional District race may be one of the nation's closest - Chesterfield Observer - October 8th, 2020
- Waukon City Council hears restaurant proposal for former JCPenney/Tierney's building, leaves trick-or-treat participation decision this year up to... - October 8th, 2020
- Abbotsford West candidates spar on Highway 1, light rail, housing and snap election - Abbotsford News - October 8th, 2020
- Noem urges legislators to carefully follow US Treasury guidelines while deciding how to spend a portion of the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars... - October 8th, 2020
- The Social Cost Of COVID-19 - The ASEAN Post - September 8th, 2020
- Stalwarts who founded and built the UNP must be turning in their graves - NewsIn.Asia - September 8th, 2020
- 2020 could be the year of 'peak Democrat' in Colorado. This is why. - Colorado Springs Gazette - September 8th, 2020
- Trump and the RNC should remind Cuban voters of Fidel Castro, not their political home - NBC News - August 31st, 2020
- Analysis: Will Uzbekistan's Champion of Reform Stay the Course? - Voice of America - August 31st, 2020
- It's Never Been More Clear: Fare Hikes Won't Save the MBTA - Boston magazine - August 31st, 2020
- Libertarians Took Control of This Small Town. It Didn't End Well. - Washington Monthly - August 31st, 2020
- Point-Counterpoint: Benefits will outweigh the consequences for college football this fall - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - August 31st, 2020
- Fact-checking the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention - Poynter - August 31st, 2020
- Moody's: Coronavirus is accelerating shift to online education - Education Dive - August 31st, 2020
- Corbella: Facts and fairness show public sector workers should have their pay cut - Calgary Herald - August 31st, 2020
- Fred Perpall, CEO of The Beck Group, says Blacks and whites need to be more inclusive - The Dallas Morning News - August 31st, 2020
- Could On-Campus Housing At Local Universities Lead To COVID-19 Outbreaks? - NBC San Diego - August 31st, 2020
- Explained: What to look for in GDP data today - The Indian Express - August 31st, 2020
- 35th District Race Brings Three Options to Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook - Zip06.com - August 31st, 2020
- Beware the Chinese Economy Recovery Trap - JAPAN Forward - August 31st, 2020
- At RNC, here's what Trump, Republicans have to say our country and economy if they want to win - Fox Business - August 31st, 2020
- When we went to remote learning I could feel every teacher's eyes on me - Sydney Morning Herald - August 31st, 2020
- Bad bank not only necessary but unavoidable in present situation: Subbarao - THE WEEK - August 31st, 2020
- MORSE denies allegations of INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR State REOPENING is on PAUSE Senate race gets NEGATIVE - Politico - August 10th, 2020
- Austerity: Another officer retires, rehired by Odisha government - The New Indian Express - August 10th, 2020
- Media Training Workshop on Using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for Investigative Reports on Campaign Fi - The Nigerian Voice - August 10th, 2020
- Detainees concerned for well-being as COVID-19 cases rise in crowded Hays County Jail - Community Impact Newspaper - August 10th, 2020
- The Endowment is Not the Issue - Harvard Political Review - August 10th, 2020
- DAILY VOICE: Four reasons why IT stocks are hitting 52-week highs - Moneycontrol.com - August 10th, 2020
- Kashmiris Lament the Loss of Their Youth - Foreign Policy - August 10th, 2020
- SLPP has creatively disrupted politics; now it has to do the same to the economy - ft.lk - August 10th, 2020
- More freedom to banks, further rate cut not ruled out: 10 key takeaways from policy meet - Economic Times - August 9th, 2020
- In HBO film, Ken Buck suggests he will leave Congress soon - The Denver Post - August 9th, 2020
- Biden's Climate Plan Would Put Us on the Road to Serfdom - The Heartland Institute - August 9th, 2020
- Krishi Kalyan & Cashew India App: Farmers Breathe Sigh of Relief As Government Aims To Revive Indian Agro Industry - The Indian Wire - August 9th, 2020
- How Attacks on Faith, Family, and Conscience Threaten All Our Freedoms - Daily Signal - August 8th, 2020
- Military Alliances, Partnerships Strengthened Through Defense Strategy Execution - Department of Defense - August 8th, 2020
- @theMarket: The Economy Versus the Stock Market - iBerkshires.com - August 8th, 2020
- UK housing is on the agenda. How do we really build back better? - Big Issue - August 8th, 2020
- Letter: You'd think police would have better things to do than silence street musicians - Seacoastonline.com - August 5th, 2020
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Fiscal Year 2021 State Department Budget Request - US Embassy in... - August 5th, 2020
- Brcko District to improve the Fiscal Discipline and Transparency of Expenditure of Public Funds - Sarajevo Times - August 5th, 2020
- How to find a pubmedia job in a pandemic - Current - August 5th, 2020
- Guest opinion: Address to C-SD Class of 2020 - Dorchester Banner - Dorchester Banner - August 5th, 2020
- Making sure the U.S. military remains the best in the world - Brookings Register - August 5th, 2020
- Mailbag: 'Choose life and success' over COVID-19 - Los Angeles Times - August 5th, 2020
- With Trump reelection uncertain, GOP battles over its future - Los Angeles Times - August 4th, 2020
- Leading the Way on Higher Education Reform through Smart Giving - Philanthropy Magazine - August 4th, 2020
- Let's be blunt about it: Russ Diamond is a jerk - The Times of Chester County - August 4th, 2020
- College Football Needs to Change. The Pac-12s Players Are Making That Happen. - The Ringer - August 4th, 2020
- Fiscal Freedom - The Heritage Foundation - August 2nd, 2020
- Gen Z GOP wants to build the Republican Party of the future - Boston Herald - August 2nd, 2020
- Rallying cry: 'There is no reason this statue needs to be moved' - messenger-inquirer - August 2nd, 2020
- No Europe Without the Rule of Law by Harold James - Project Syndicate - August 2nd, 2020
- Today's Headlines and Commentary - Lawfare - August 2nd, 2020
- Faculty push back on how colleges are planning for the fall - Education Dive - August 2nd, 2020
- Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Converters Market 2020 Analysis by Geographical Regions, Type and Application Till 2026 with Top Key Players - Owned - August 2nd, 2020
- New release shows the value of the Union to the nations of the UK - GOV.UK - August 2nd, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: School administration in Middletown is dysfunctional - The Providence Journal - August 1st, 2020
- Making sure US military remains the best - The Highland County Press - August 1st, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: School administration in Middletown is dysfunctional - newportri.com - July 31st, 2020
- LETTER: Eckert 'attempted to deceive voters' - The Daily News of Newburyport - July 31st, 2020
- Iowa regents OK cuts to university budgets, presidential compensation - The Gazette - July 31st, 2020
- Mooney is a freedom fighter | Journal-news | journal-news.net - Martinsburg Journal - July 31st, 2020
- Canadians' right to information should not be compromised: commissioner - Powell River Peak - July 31st, 2020
- Visit Sun Valley: Winter a time to get back to basics - Idaho Mountain Express and Guide - July 31st, 2020
- Editorials from around the US July 25-29 | Promotions | dailytimes.com - dailytimes.com - July 31st, 2020
- Two years after Janus, more workers are exercising their freedom of association - Long Beach Press Telegram - July 31st, 2020
- Two years after Janus, more workers are exercising their freedom of association - LA Daily News - July 30th, 2020
- Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network and Network Health Help Patients Manage Diabetes Using Glooko and Xealth - Business Wire - July 30th, 2020
- The times demand leadership: A message on the Conservative Party's leadership race - The Suburban Newspaper - July 29th, 2020