With opinions ranging from support for Alberta’s separation from Canada to a desire to take a closer look at the province’s legacy, there was a mixed bag of thoughts shared Alberta Government’s Fair Deal Panel in Grande Prairie Wednesday night.
Speakers were given two minutes apiece to give their thoughts on several questions, including whether they think Alberta is getting a fair deal in the federation and what the province should do to get one. One resident says she has travelled to and lived in several provinces and isn’t convinced that sweeping changes are the way to go.
“I’m not as afraid as many people seem to feel right now,” says Paula Anderson. “I’m very much wanting to be part of a federation. I do not want my Canada Pension Plan messed with; I do not want a local Alberta-only police force when we may require cross-Canada checks that a national force like the RCMP can afford us on very deep crimes.”
Former Calgary-Varsity MLA and panel member Donna Kennedy Glans believes the majority of people across the province agree with what the Alberta Government’s belief that the province isn’t getting its fair share of things like equalization payments, but adds, overall, she has heard well thought out arguments from both sides of the spectrum.
“Where we see a variance is how people want to tackle that issue. Some people are exhausted by it and they just want to do something dramatic, and they want it to happen right now,” she says. “Other people want a more paced response, and I think that ties to people’s personalities and situations. We are seeing differences across different regions, to be honest with you.”
One resident, who only identified himself as Gerald, says the feeling of anger is palpable in people across the province. However, he stops short of suggesting separation as the key to a more successful and vibrant future for Alberta.
“I’ve seen a lot of people cheesed off. Is it ever going to change? Probably not. Is Alberta getting a fair deal? No, no we’re not, and if we don’t stand up to the eastern provinces and the policies from the big populations, we aren’t going to get anywhere. We need to stand together.”
The Grande Prairie stop on the Fair Deal Panel tour was the fifth, with the panel next planning to travel to Fort McMurray in early January.