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Danielle Smith has her Justin Trudeau moment


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Jamie Sarkonak: Danielle Smith has her Justin Trudeau moment

Flowery marketing campaign for Alberta pension is based on impossible assumptions

 

National Post

smith.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=400&sigDanielle Smith, Premier, Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance and Jim Dinning, chair, Alberta Pension Plan Report Engagement Panel release an independent report on a potential Alberta Pension Plan in Calgary on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

EDMONTON — Outrageous demands for cash that are impossibly large to fulfill don’t make a person look strong. They just make a person look irrational and childish, like a kid invoicing Mom for One Million Dollars for chores, or an estranged spouse threatening divorce to “take all your money.”

Unfortunately, my dear province is demonstrating its lack of rationality by doing the governmental equivalent. Alberta is considering a withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the creation of a new and (supposedly) improved Alberta Pension Plan, which will (supposedly) save businesses up to $1,425 per worker.

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The catch: Alberta’s plan to do this involves taking half of what’s in the CPP account — $334 billion. Which is never going to happen.

The colossal estimate for Alberta’s share was set out in an August report by a consulting firm tasked with envisioning how a provincial pension would work. It uses an extremely generous, gluttonous even, interpretation of the law behind the CPP to arrive at its optimistic conclusion, which means it’s likely wrong. When its formula is applied to Ontario along with Alberta, the two provinces are owed an impossible 113 per cent of CPP. 

The estimate also assumes that the feds won’t immediately change the CPP law the moment Alberta tries to pull an Ocean’s 11.

A more realistic estimate comes from Trevor Tombe, a Calgary economist who projects that Alberta’s entitled share of CPP could be half as big as the government-stamped estimate at 25 per cent of the fund, equal to $150 billion. Even this, he explained, was higher than what it would likely end up being in practice. 
To give itself a shade of plausible deniability, the Alberta government reassures us that this report is from an independent third party. But in watching how Premier Danielle Smith talks about it, it might as well not be: “We’re going to go forward on the basis that we hired the best company, they did the work, and this is established in law,” she told CBC in an interview Thursday. 

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Only, it’s far from established in law. Either the government has a weak understanding of the significance of a third-party report, or the advice being given to the premier is negligently bad.

Nevertheless, now begins the consultation phase, launched by Smith Thursday with the release of an engagement survey,carefully tailored to limit critical responses. Instead of “Should we do this?” it asks “How should we do this?” 
Proper feedback can’t be given because details of how a provincial pension plan would work — including whether it would be politically sheltered or not — haven’t been fleshed out yet. Smith doesn’t believe this lack of a detailed plan is a problem because her projected $334 billion payout — a fiction for all practical purposes — is so big that the fine print doesn’t matter. Her stance on the pension is about as bad as Justin Trudeau’s run at the budget (“the budget will balance itself”) and his no-hunting-rifles-included hunting rifle ban. 

Smith’s wrestling match with the CPP over her claim to the pension is a destructive force for Albertans (an independent pension is unlikely to have the stability of the CPP) and for the country as a whole, which would be left with a smaller pool of funds. The only goal is just money for money’s sake; there is no bigger-picture Albertan identity to work towards.

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Alberta should be a force of leadership in the federation. It’s a wealthy province, and it should have strong enough institutions that it can look outside its borders to extend its influence. Instead, it resorts to making spiteful moves rooted in an urge to become more like Quebec. Only, unlike Quebec, Alberta doesn’t have the kind of distinct culture that would justify a financial divorce from the rest of the country. And now, the pension fight has premiers elsewhere worried. 
Pension independence has been a longtime aspiration among the province’s leadership class. Before he was prime minister, Stephen Harper, as signatory to the famous firewall letter to then-premier Ralph Klein, advocated for an Alberta pension. Pension independence was on the Wildrose Party platform 10 years ago, when Premier Danielle Smith was at the helm. The current run at financial divorce started when Jason Kenney was leading the United Conservative Party — Kenney won an equalization referendum that ultimately didn’t go anywhere, and got the ball rolling on the pension in 2019. 

The unfair burden on Albertans doesn’t come from pensions and equalization, however; those are just facts of life that come with belonging to a larger state. The actual problems are the many federal overreaches in recent years: the carbon tax, the fuel charge, the upcoming clean electricity regulations, the fertilizer emissions reduction target, the ever-expanding framework for Indigenous consultation. The list can go on.

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Apart from matters of resource development, it’s rare for Alberta to file reference questions to its top court to challenge federal overreaches, or to say “no” to federal funding tied to the progressive Liberal agenda. The premier is happy to accept $3.8 billion in federal dollars to advance the Liberal daycare program — a deal that she decried in 2021, back before she led the UCP. 
Meanwhile, Albertan universities must adhere to Liberal diversity requirements to be eligible for various federal grants; any potential urban national park in Alberta will have to adhere to the Liberal rules to get federal money. The United Conservative Party doesn’t fight for cultural independence on the easy stuff. Why go after the pension when you can’t even stand up for the basics? 
In some senses, Smith has the right idea: Alberta should have a better deal in the federation. But the bad deal isn’t coming from the pension — it’s coming from everything else. Instead of using Trudeau-style misleading marketing to rally Albertans behind what will be an embarrassing fail of a pension heist, Smith should focus on the basics. Get rid of NDP-appointed senior public servants. Challenge Liberal overreaches. Stop depending on the feds to support the “easy” portfolios like education, family and culture. 

And at very least, as far as the pension goes, come up with an estimate that doesn’t read like it’s written in crayon.

National Post

 

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jamie-sarkonak-danielle-smiths-pension-crusade-wont-fend-off-liberal-intrusions/wcm/4d884e93-250c-4be8-ad90-71ea6cfe20aa/amp/

Edited by BeaverFever
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  • BeaverFever changed the title to Danielle Smith has her Justin Trudeau moment
  • 3 weeks later...
5 hours ago, RedDog said:

More than half the CCP kitty belonging to Alberta demonstrates (yet again) that Canada is exploiting Alberta as a financial colony - as per the original Central Canadian design and intention.

I would bet 20% is a more likely figure.

It's moot anyway, as sane Albertans like myself are never going to vote to give Danielle Smith control over our pensions.

Edited by bcsapper
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2 hours ago, bcsapper said:

I would bet 20% is a more likely figure.

It's moot anyway, as sane Albertans like myself are never going to vote to give Danielle Smith control over our pensions.

Alberta should be in total control of Alberta money which belongs to Albertans.

I note PAYbec is not part of the Canada Pension Plan.

I suggest you’re a slave drek to Alberta money - to which you’ve grown accustomed - like most Canadians.

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3 minutes ago, RedDog said:

Alberta should be in total control of Alberta money which belongs to Albertans.

I note PAYbec is not part of the Canada Pension Plan.

I suggest you’re a slave drek to Alberta money - to which you’ve grown accustomed - like most Canadians.

ROLMAO - well you go ahead and seehow that works out for you But no backsies - we're not bailing you out later the way bc always does with alberta :) 

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4 minutes ago, RedDog said:

Alberta should be in total control of Alberta money which belongs to Albertans.

I note PAYbec is not part of the Canada Pension Plan.

I suggest you’re a slave drek to Alberta money - to which you’ve grown accustomed - like most Canadians.

You're suggestion is duly ignored.  I am, of course, as much an Albertan as you are, and I say my money stays in the CPP.

If it comes to it, you vote, I'll vote, and we'll see.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, bcsapper said:

You're suggestion is duly ignored.  I am, of course, as much an Albertan as you are, and I say my money stays in the CPP.

If it comes to it, you vote, I'll vote, and we'll see.

 

 

Voting itself is flawed because n Canada. BC and AB have a greater population than PAYbec. Why the difference in Senate seats?

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14 minutes ago, RedDog said:

Voting itself is flawed because n Canada. BC and AB have a greater population than PAYbec. Why the difference in Senate seats?

I'm talking about the promised referendum.  I'm sure the vote will only be flawed if you don't get your way.

Senate?  What Senate? 

Edit> That's a joke, by the way.  I know what Senate.  I just don't care.

Edited by bcsapper
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53 minutes ago, bcsapper said:

I'm talking about the promised referendum.  I'm sure the vote will only be flawed if you don't get your way.

Senate?  What Senate? 

Edit> That's a joke, by the way.  I know what Senate.  I just don't care.

I didn’t create the slanted system. It was created by central Canada to best serve them.

My key is to get Alberta out and begin recovery of funds.

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2 hours ago, RedDog said:

I didn’t create the slanted system. It was created by central Canada to best serve them.

 

The referendum would be provincial - it would have nothing to do with central canada.

Quote

My key is to get Alberta out and begin recovery of funds.

You mean your plan, or your goal or the like.  Not key. A key is something different. Your goal is to get alberta out, your key is F minor whih i suspect was also your Grade average in school.

And please - by all means get out of the CPP system :)

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