Initial results suggest that Alberta votes in favor of removing equalization from the Canadian constitution – .

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Initial results suggest that Alberta votes in favor of removing equalization from the Canadian constitution – .


Although a final table for the entire province will not be available for a week, unofficial results have been reported in several of the larger municipalities in the province.

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EDMONTON – Voters in Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, appear to have voted to remove equalization from Canada’s constitution, according to the unofficial results of the province’s referendum on equalization payments.

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Although a final official table for the entire province will not be available from Elections Alberta for a week, unofficial referendum results have been reported in several of the largest municipalities in the province, including Lethbridge, Red Deer and Medicine Hat, in addition to Calgary. , providing for the possible outcome of the vote.

Edmonton, the capital and the second largest city, has chosen not to post unofficial votes in this referendum, or a second during daylight saving time. (Cities, which collect referendum results while also holding municipal elections, have until next Monday to report the results of the referenda and senatorial elections to Elections Alberta.)

It was not clear Monday night, in all municipalities, what percentage of voters actually voted in municipal elections.

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In Calgary, about 58% of voters voted “yes” in the referendum on equalization, which asked whether the equalization program should be removed from the Canadian constitution, compared to 42% who voted “no”.

Although this margin seems large – 16 percentage points – it is small compared to the margins observed in other cities in the province. In Medicine Hat, sometimes Monday evening, the camp of the “yes” had collected 70% of the voters. In Red Deer, early feedback showed that about 69% voted “yes”. In Lethbridge, 59 percent voted in favor.

While the numbers were subject to change overnight Monday through Tuesday, the ‘yes’ is clearly ahead in many of Alberta’s major population centers, and Equalization is a long-standing grievance in parts of the country. province.

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For the United Conservative Party government, which has struggled to deliver on a number of economically-related election promises and misunderstood its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the referendum was an indispensable victory.

Kenney’s popularity has plummeted, with just 22% of Albertans – and just 39% of UCP 2019 voters – expressing approval of his performance, according to a ThinkHQ poll released in early October, highlighting his need to win on the referendum question.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said that even more than needing a win, Kenney needed to “not lose” that vote.

“It’s a major part of UCP,” Bratt said Monday afternoon.

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Yet it is still not clear what will happen next.

“It’s a very complicated business, to say the least,” Bratt said.

Changing the constitution to remove equalization, a program that has existed since 1957, requires the support of the House of Commons and the Senate, as well as two-thirds of the provincial legislatures, representing more than 50 percent of the Canadian population.

This is a result that Alberta is unlikely to achieve. Yet supporters of the referendum, including former Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton, have argued that a 1998 Supreme Court referral case over Quebec secession says victory over a referendum requires negotiations between the federal government and the provinces on constitutional amendments.

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“If Albertans vote a ‘clear majority on a clear question’ then Ottawa and the other provinces have ‘a duty to negotiate’ with us,” Morton wrote recently in the Calgary Herald.

Kenney similarly argued, “A positive vote on a proposed constitutional amendment… (would require) the Government of Canada to enter into good faith negotiations with Alberta over the proposed constitutional amendment.

But, this is by no means guaranteed.

Eric Adams, professor of constitutional law at the University of Alberta, argued that the obligation to negotiate is triggered – as in the case of Quebec – exclusively when there is a constitutional crisis, such as secession, that is getting ready. Not just because a province wants a constitutional change.

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“Imagine a scenario where every time a province holds a vote on a constitutional matter, and the positive outcome of that forces all other provinces and the federal government to immediately engage in constitutional negotiations… it’s unfathomable, because of the malfunction, ”Adams told the National Post.

The United Conservatives, who came to power in Alberta in 2019 by promising to revive the economy and ensure more autonomy – à la Québécoise – for the province, linked the referendum to other political objectives, such as the equalization reform (not elimination) and policy changes affecting the oil and gas industry.

“Even the Prime Minister is telling people to answer the question that is not on the ballot, that it is about influence and it is about sending a message, and that it is not about the constitution. But the question is about the constitution. That’s kind of the problem, ”Bratt said.

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The party’s 2019 platform promised to hold the referendum “if substantial progress is not made in the construction of a coastal pipeline and if Trudeau’s Bill C-69 is not repealed”, and does so. referred to as a “leverage” tool for federal action to complement a coastal pipeline and to demand reforms of the current unfair formula.

Kenney himself made these arguments when discussing the referendum.

“The goal (the referendum) is to gain leverage for constitutional negotiations with the federal government on reforming the entire system of fiscal federalism, which treats Alberta so unfairly,” Kenney said. , according to The Canadian Press.

Monday’s vote, which took place in conjunction with municipal elections for mayors, trustees and trustees, along with a vote for new Alberta senators and a second referendum question on daylight saving time, represents the culmination of a United Conservative promise.

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After the 2019 election, Kenney convened a panel to tour the province, seeking comment on how Alberta could gain greater autonomy in its affairs.

In May 2020, the panel reported, making 25 recommendations to the government, one of which was to hold a referendum on removing equalization from the constitution. In the 64 years since the inception of the Equalization program, Alberta has only been a “have-not” province eight times, and not since the mid-1960s.

“Albertans are frustrated and there is a growing perception that the Equalization system is broken and fundamentally unfair to Alberta, taking billions of dollars out of our province, even in times of economic recession,” wrote the Minister of Finance. Travis Toews in a recently published opinion piece. in the Edmonton Journal.

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