By Letter to the Editor on May 12, 2021.
In response to Mr. Larry Samcoe’s May 6 editorial, “Alberta in Confederation.”
Mr. Samcoe repeats, and seems to believe, the old standby lie of the perpetually aggrieved among some conservatives when he comments on the source of federal government equalization payments, stating “â€¦tax revenues from Alberta have been the primary contributorâ€¦” Do not many on the political right know that Alberta pays no tax of any kind to Ottawa, and has never paid any, because of Constitution Act, section 125? That law prevents Ottawa from taxing provinces and provinces from taxing Ottawa. This has been law for 38 years before Alberta even existed.
To be truthful, Mr. Samcoe ought to have stated that equalization payments are paid from federal tax revenue, some of which comes from some taxpayers who earn a lot of money, some of whom live in Alberta, and that some of those high-earning Alberta residents work in the oil and gas industry. That is the truth. The old lie that our province has paid and still pays billions of dollars to Ottawa is regularly trotted out and paraded around by some right-wingers, who are ever-eager to convince you to wallow with them in their intellectual mudhole of victimization. How does it logically follow that because some complainers in Alberta are unhappy with one aspect of federal spending, the province of Alberta is therefore at a disadvantage? It does not follow, nor can it follow.
The general theme of Mr. Samcoe’s editorial is that because some Albertans make a lot of money from oil and gas, Canada should therefore be run the way the right-wingers want it to be run. If that is not evidence of a brazen sense of entitlement, I don’t know what is. They are effectively saying to all Canadians, “Some of us are rich with oil and gas income, so all of you ought to do what we want.” The core concept of our political system is one voter, one vote. Alberta has 11% of Canada’s population, only a portion of whom are conservative, and only a subset of that portion have the sense of entitlement and promote the lie. You can surely do the arithmetic. Mr. Samcoe and his ilk seem disinclined to do so.
Gregory R. Cote