By Mo Cranker on November 10, 2019.
Medicine Hat News
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes says he is ready to get to work on the provincial Fair Deal Panel he was named to Saturday.
Barnes received a phone call about an hour before the official announcement was made by the United Conservative Party — he says he is ready for the task.
“I was thrilled,” said Barnes. “I got a call asking if I was interested in the position. I asked what the parameters were and accepted it.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Premier Jason Kenney announced the panel in Red Deer Saturday — its goal is to get Alberta a fair deal in confederation.
“These are the things that Cypress-Medicine Hatters have been telling me,” said Barnes. “It’s been loud and clear.”
A western separation movement has popped up in Alberta and has gained traction since the federal election last month. Barnes says this panel is not about separation or the #wexit movement.
“This isn’t about separation — it’s about independence and strength,” he said. “We want to be a strong part of Canada, but we absolutely need to have more equity and more fairness.
“We need more opportunity to develop our resources, our oil and gas and our agriculture — and share with the rest of Canada.
“We need that opportunity to have a fair deal.”
With Barnes, the panel is made up of Preston Manning, Stephen Lougheed, Oryssia Lennie, Jason Goodstriker, Donna Kennedy, Moin Yahya, Miranda Rosin and Tany Yao.
The panel will take on a minimum of seven meetings as a group and will report back by the end of March.
“It looks like this is fairly open to where we can go,” said Barnes. “The initial direction is to focus on some of the things that will help Alberta be stronger.”
Barnes cited a number of different initiatives the panel will look at.
“We’re going to look at our own provincial pension plan like Quebec has. We’re going to look at collecting our own tax like Quebec does,” he said. “Both Ontario and Quebec have their own police.
“We want to be the freest richest place in North America.”
Barnes says a provincial referendum on equalization and transfer payments will be part of the panel’s focus as well.
“That’s a crucial step,” he said. “What the results will be are unclear — the inequity to all of Alberta is clear.”
Barnes confirmed he would not be attending a #wexit rally in Medicine Hat on Sunday.