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Canada Pension Demands: The Latest Alberta Power Move Against Federal Overreach

All Canadians should be watching Alberta’s latest move with great interest, which is their stated intention to remove itself from Canada Pension. It’s the latest salvo in the province’s fight against the federal Liberal over-reach, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s beloved anti-pipeline bill, Bill C-69 was dealt a shocking blow by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Trudeau government must be incensed, considering most of the Supreme Court members are Liberal nominees, and Alberta was surprised and rightly delighted that the bill was confirmed as unconstitutional, and infringed on provincial rights.

True to form, the Liberals signaled that they will alter their plans as they deem necessary and proceed. Nevertheless, when even a Supreme Court that has shown itself to be increasingly activist slaps down such a law, it confirms Albertans’ suspicions were legitimate after all.

It’s a good lesson to fight the federal government on all similar matters, for if they are not contested, it will continue to increase their power.

The Canada Pension move is part of what appears to be a long chess game, and it’s a brilliant move – for Alberta. Canada’s wealth continues to come from the oil patch, much to the disgust of Trudeau, who has tried to stall and delay all forms of development and expansion – all the while taking the revenue from the province and redistributing it as it sees fit.

Alberta’s stated desire to receive what it sees as its fair share of Canada Pension revenues already collected , while fair, is problematic for other provinces, especially those who are “takers” from equalization payments – most notably Quebec. Which, by the way, continues to express disgust at Alberta crude by refusing to allow a pipeline through its territory enroute to an Atlantic Ocean outlet.

So, if other provinces and the federal government don’t like what Alberta is doing, why should they benefit from the revenues produced thereby? Good question, and Alberta’s pension move appears to be along those lines.

Canada Pension reportedly has almost $22 billion invested in oil and gas producers, although the total portfolio is over $550 billion. Yet with the federal government’s insistence on so-called “ethical investing”, oil and gas likely won’t find an increasing place in the CPP portfolio.

So, where are the needed investment returns going to come from, if they are to come from the energy sector at all? Almost all of the “green power” options are heavily subsidized and would not be growing without serious government intervention.

Alberta is staking a claim they can do better with pension money than the federal government. If they do their own investing, Alberta pensioners will be much better off. But not having Alberta in CPP will mean deficiencies for other provinces.

Why does Alberta have to make such stands to defend its economy? The Trudeau family has made no secret of its contempt for the province, with this edition trying to take the “high moral ground” of fighting Alberta over climate change. Pierre Trudeau hated Alberta, and his National Energy Program brought the province to its collective knees overnight a generation ago.

Why is Alberta firmly in the Trudeau sights? I strongly believe that, regardless of what is said, it is strictly because of power politics. Trudeaus seem to view Canada as Upper and Lower Canada of confederation times, where the rest of the country needs to be subservient to Ontario and Quebec. Truly, all federal elections are decided in these two regions, no matter what happens elsewhere. Whoever wins the big two takes power, and the Liberals are very good at that.

Perhaps it goes even deeper than that. This Trudeau seems to almost hate what Canada has become, or could be. Look at what he’s done with the dictatorial power he has received from the NDP’s support. The Trudeau family’s continual strengthening of Quebec’s place in the country is well-recognized, including the fact that a person cannot work for the federal government without being bilingual – across the country - even though the vast majority of British Columbians, for example, don’t speak French.

Speculation? Anybody else have a better of idea for the reasoning behind Trudeau’s assault on Alberta?

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has surely had enough, and many Canadians are applauding her strong stance against Trudeau’s dictatorial style. It’s about time. Saskatchewan stands with them. B.C., dominated by the NDP, supports Trudeau’s policies in general. For nationalists, Alberta’s defense is problematic, and harkens back to “the west wants in” and moves towards western separatism.

Nobody in power is saying that just now. But with the ruling on Bill C-69 and the move towards self-determination of the Canada Pension contributions from its own citizens, Alberta’s messaging is strong. They want the same power that Quebec continually wields, and if they can win the CPP battle, that will give them plenty of momentum.

They have been backed into a corner by Trudeau. Alberta is fighting back, and it looks like they’re beginning to win. It will be interesting to watch their next steps.

- October, 2023 Business Examiner News Group

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