Alberta Politics

Alberta’s “Fair Deal” Panel hosts first Separatist Open Mic Night in Edmonton

Dozens of speakers stepped up to to the mic to share their two-minutes worth of opinions at the first “Fair Deal” Panel town hall meeting in Edmonton last night. The event in the large meeting room at the St. Michael’s Heritage Hall was well-attended, but not overflowing with crowds of angry Albertans demanding separation from Canada.

The panel was appointed last month to decide whether Alberta is receiving a fair deal from Ottawa.

Fair Deal Panel Edmonton Alberta Politics 1
Fair Deal Panelists: Oryssia Lennie, Preston Manning, Stephen Lougheed, Jason Goodstriker, Donna Kennedy-Glans, Drew Barnes, Moin Yahya, Miranda Rosin, and Tany Yao.

The first speaker up to the mic told the panel that he was a separatist from Quebec when he moved to Alberta in the 1980s and feels Alberta is not getting a fair deal from Ottawa. The second speaker used his two-minutes at the mic to boisterously declare that Canada was broken and that his personal Christmas wish was for Premier Jason Kenney to hold a referendum on separation.

A few speakers criticized the government for stirring up separatist sentiment, expressed hope that Alberta could collaborate with other provinces, and said they wouldn’t trust the United Conservative Party government to manage a provincial pension plan (a statement which got some enthusiastic cheers from sections of the room). But many of the speakers tended to share separatist, or at least anti-federal Liberal sentiments, venting frustrations about federal environmental laws, delivering detailed plot summaries of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and offering their expertise on constitutional issues.

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips
Chris Chang-Yen Phillips

In what was probably the most thoughtful two-minutes of the evening, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, Edmonton’s former historian laureate and host of the Let’s Find Out Podcast, urged the panel to focus less on what we believe we are owed and more on taking care of each other.

Chang-Yen Phillips went on to explain that a fair deal in Confederation for him would be where every province does its part to lower carbon emissions, or transition away from fossil fuels. His comments might fall on deaf ears on the panel but it was a refreshing break from the separatist rhetoric that dominated the evening.

Who stood up at the mic was also telling. While not all of the speakers were white men who appeared to be older than 60 years old, it certainly skewed toward that demographic from my view in the room.

The panel was created following the Liberal Party‘s victory in the October 21, 2019 federal election, despite the Conservative Party earning 70 percent of the vote in Alberta, and was prescribed nine policy proposals that would ostensibly make Alberta more autonomous from the federal government in Ottawa. The proposals, ranging from creating a provincial police force to withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan to barring municipal governments from making agreements with the federal government, are inspired by the Firewall Manifesto penned by a group of conservative luminaries in 2001.

Separatist Open Mic Night Edmonton Alberta
The panel hears from a speaker at the town hall

Politically, the panel and its town hall meetings are both a relief valve and a steering wheel meant to allow Albertans to vent separatist sentiments while allowing Kenney to attempt to keep ahead of the crowd. Or at least that’s the plan.

The first town hall took place on the same day as the international credit rating agency Moody’s once again downgraded the provincial government’s credit rating.

During their time in opposition, the UCP was very eager to blame the credit downgrades on the New Democratic Party government’s “reckless” and “ideological” agenda, but it turns out that the credit rating downgrades have more to do with structural problems facing Alberta’s finances – like our unwavering over-dependence on oil and gas royalties to fund the day to day operations of the public service. That might have been a topic at a town hall interested in a fair deal for Albertans in Alberta, but this panel has a narrow political scope – and Kenney has Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is square in its sights.

There are plenty of articulate arguments to be made in favour and against pursuing the nine autonomy policies presented by the panel but they weren’t heard last night. The two-minute open mic format is a good way to let people vent and a poor way to collect meaningful information. If this is the format that is going to be used for the rest of the panel’s town hall meetings, it is difficult to believe they will gather much substantial feedback for their report to the government.

Independence Party of Alberta fires its President

Overshadowed by the media-darling Wexit group, the Independence Party of Alberta appears to be in a bit of internal turmoil.

The IPA, which recently changed its name from the Alberta Independence Party to the Independence Party of Alberta, released a statement on Nov. 1, 2019 announcing that interim president S. Todd Beasley had been removed from the position and his membership had been rescinded. The party then released another statement accusing Beasley and a group of former candidates of breaking internal party rules and being in possession of books of party membership forms.

Beasley is a controversial conservative activist who was believed to be the frontrunner for the UCP nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat before he withdrew from the contest after making derogatory remarks about Muslims.

The Alberta Independence Party fielded 63 candidates in the April 2019 provincial election and earned a total of 0.71 per cent of the province-wide vote. Party leader Dave Bjorkman resigned shortly after the election and Wexit leader Peter Downing had announced plans to seek the leadership but his supporters appear to be continuing to collect signatures to form a separate Wexit Party.

Meanwhile, another group of separatists led by former Wildrose Party candidate Sharon Maclise, appears to be continuing its effort to collect signatures to register the Alberta Freedom Alliance as an official party in Alberta.

7 replies on “Alberta’s “Fair Deal” Panel hosts first Separatist Open Mic Night in Edmonton”

What in the world was this? It looked like an audition for the movie Cocoon. If this event was supposedly full, why do I see empty seats in your photos? Regardless, this “Fair Deal Panel” is a farce and a joke, and nothing more. It was predetermined with what would be brought up on the agenda, and the location and date were made so fewer people would be able to go there. Given Metro Edmonton’s population, why was more dates for this not added? Also, I’ll venture to guess that the event was recorded, like any good dictatorship government would do, not for ease of documenting the discussion, but for catching anyone who is against Jason Kenney’s very bad policies. The “panel” fails to see that the Alberta PCs were very fiscally reckless, after Peter Lougheed left office. They were naive in thinking oil booms would be permanent. They wasted exhorbitant amounts of money on the most costliest scandals, and left infrastructure to decay. Now, we have the UCP thinking the same thing, with corporate tax cuts that never, ever created a single job, but lost Alberta around $4.7 billion. The UCP have made well over $13 billion in very costly mistakes. They have nobody to blame but themselves. Glad you went there though.

Doesn’t sound like much fun…….listening to old white men over 60 expound on their ‘beliefs’ in two minute intervals….glad I wasn’t there.

Events like this have their own, inherent selection bias: only the most passionate — or fanatic, or obsessive, or enraged — tend to go to these things & participate. The input collected at such an event cannot be described as representative evidence of what the wider populace thinks about anything. They’re a complete and utter waste of time and money — our money, let’s not forget.

…The event in the large meeting room at the St. Michael’s Heritage Hall was well-attended, but not overflowing…

I tried to get a ‘ticket’ (attendance is being organized by Eventbrite) for the Edmonton event but was told it was sold out. Judging by the empty chairs Anonymous mentioned, it would appear that either a lot of people registered and didn’t bother to show up, or else Dave’s comment about older white men is evident by bathroom use!

I didn’t bother going to the Wexit early Festivus. If I did, I would have been quite angry, so perhaps would have fit in with the mood of some, but I would have been angry for different reasons.

One of the things that annoys me most in life is wasting time and money and this is exactly that. All these firewall things will achieve nothing and certainly will not get any pipelines built any faster – they are not even really related, except in the minds of people whose thinking is a bit muddled. Provincial CPP, Provincial Police force, provincial tax collection – perhaps they have some merits on their own (or not) but they have nothing to do with the price of petroleum in Ponoka or anywhere else.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, this provincial government will do ultimately do what it wants anyways. These forums are pointless, except to give them something to cherry pick to support what they decide on for their own reasons and to distract everyone in the meantime.

Build a strong Canada with strong and vibrant provinces and territories. Work constructively with all leaders in the country to build this great country up, not tear it apart. If you don’t have the skills and character to do this, step aside and let others who do.

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