A motion to hold a referendum on equalization in Alberta is set to be formally introduced into the legislature on Monday.
If passed, Albertans would be asked as part of the October municipal election whether they think the section dealing with equalization payments should be removed from the Canadian constitution — something Alberta doesn’t actually have the power to do on its own.
The UCP government has insisted since the last provincial election that the current equalization payments are one of the ways Alberta is not getting a “fair deal” from Ottawa.
The referendum was an election promise by the UCP as well as one of the recommendations to come out of the Fair Deal Panel report aimed at improving the province’s economic position within Confederation.
Alberta doesn’t actually have the power to change the federal payments on its own. The referendum would be completely non-binding on Ottawa and, if Albertans vote yes, simply require the Alberta government to “take steps” towards making a change.
It is unclear what those steps would be.
Making changes to the constitution would require approval from the House of Commons, the Senate, and at least two-thirds of the provincial legislative assemblies and come with legal and political consequences, according to the Fair Deal Panel’s report.
More to come