Alberta Premier Jason Kenney appointed local MLA Tany Yao to the government’s new Fair Deal Panel.
Serving as the MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Yao said he’s proud to accept the appointment.
“Moving forward, we’re going to be doing some town halls and other ways of reaching out to people to get their opinions on various aspects of getting a fair deal.”
Yao joined panel members and Premier Kenney for a conference call on Nov. 13, 2019, days before they officially begin work on Nov. 16.
Fair Deal for Alberta
The panel will also review ideas such as a separate police force and a provincial constitution.
However, Yao said he has considerable interest in the notion of a provincial pension plan.
“Alberta does pay a disproportionate amount of funds into the [federal] pension plan, so we could build up our own pension plan, [similar] to Quebec, and ensure some stability and control over those funds.”
He added those funds could go towards the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCO) secure better purchasing power and scale for their services.
“Not only that, but it would send a message to the rest of the nation, because we do pay a disproportionate amount. [The other provinces] would have to raise all their pension plan contributions.”
There are many opponents and critics to Kenney’s Fair Deal Panel.
For example, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said a separate pension or police force would drive up costs for equal services.
Also, Alberta NDP Opposition Leader, Rachel Notley criticized the panel for “stoking the fires” of western alienation.
Yao defended the panel pointing to the process of equalization.
“The governments have all benefited [and] profited from our resources. When Quebec is showing surpluses, not only in their provincial budget but they’re receiving several billion dollars in the so-called equalization formulas, that demonstrates some disconnect.”
Representing Wood Buffalo and the oilsands, Yao said the region is in the centre of the controversy.
“We contribute billions of dollars to the economy. Thousands of jobs from the Maritimes, Ontario, and British Columbia; all that benefits these other provinces, who are critiquing our industry.”
Yao added the federal government is responsible for the current state of the economy.
He also played down rumours of using independence movements or ‘Wexit’ to suit United Conservative objectives.
Yao reaffirmed the panel and his government’s commitment to being a voice for the people.
“Let us be clear: Our mandate is to maintain a part of Canada. We all believe strongly in this Confederation of ours; we’re just looking for a fair deal for Alberta.”
A final report from the panel is due by March 31, 2020.
Afterwards, Premier Kenney said ideas from the report would be put before Albertans in a referendum.