As with most things, when trying to affect significant change, the first step is often the hardest. In Alberta’s case, it must force the other provinces and the federal government to come to the table and negotiate a new fiscal arrangement. As University of Calgary Prof. Rainer Knopff recently noted, this is perhaps best done through an equalization resolution passed by Alberta’s legislative assembly. Such a resolution would unambiguously impose the “duty to negotiate” on the other provinces and on Ottawa, and could be used to force a broader national discussion on relations between Alberta, the other provinces and the federal government.
In our view, Alberta should push for three large-scale changes.
First, significant reforms to equalization, a program that’s clearly broken, including scrapping the GDP growth rate rule, which mandates that total equalization payments grow each year, even when the fiscal capacity of recipient and non-recipient provinces converge.