An independent corporation of Albertans is touring across Alberta talking about ending equalization payments.
Katherine Smith, CFO for Vote Yes to End Equalization said the organization formed with the help of MLA Drew Barnes, who was on the previous Fair Deal for Alberta panel.
“I’ve been quite concerned about getting a good vote on equalization, [and] I feel that most people are not engaged in that yet,” she said.
“We were more concerned about the rural areas… we were concerned that there would be a lower voter turnout and we really wanted to make sure that people really knew what was going on.”
According to Smith the tour started in High River and is moving to locations such as Strathmore, Aspen Crossing, Medicine Hat, Tabor, Airdrie, Brooks and Okotoks.
“We’re ambitious in this but we really feel that it’s necessary to get the information out to as many citizens as we can,’ she said.
“It’s time to start looking after our own needs here in Alberta. We feel that with a very good majority [yes] vote, we will be indicating to the premier of the province that Albertans are sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens.”
On an annual basis, the province of Alberta contributes roughly $6 billion in equalization payments to the federal government.
The province has not been on the receiving end of payments from the federal government since 1965.
“Most Albertans don’t realize that it’s not the premier of the province who writes a cheque to Ottawa, it’s every single person who files an income tax return. They are paying for equalization,” said Smith.
She suggested one use for the extra income within the province should equalization payments cease, be to repair more roads and highways such as the Trans Canada.
The United Conservative Party in 2020 ran a Fair Deal for Alberta panel, with the stated goal of the panel being to find ways to get a better deal in the federation for Albertans and promote the province’s economic interests.
Smith did not state an exact date for when the Vote Yes to End Equalization tour would reach Strathmore.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times