Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gives a COVID-19 update in Edmonton, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gives a COVID-19 update in Edmonton, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Albertans vote in favour of removing equalization from Constitution

All but a small fraction of districts voted to remove equalization

The final results from Alberta’s equalization referendum show almost 62 per cent of those who voted want to see the principle of equalization removed from the Constitution.

A second referendum question to keep daylight time year-round failed by a whisker: 50.1 per cent to 49.9 per cent.

The votes were held on Oct. 18 in conjunction with municipal and school board elections across the province.

All but a small fraction of districts voted to remove equalization.

Calgary voted 58 per cent in favour of removing it, but Edmonton voted 52 per cent in favour of leaving equalization alone.

Premier Jason Kenney was scheduled to address the results later Tuesday.

The path forward on equalization is not clear.

Kenney has said while the vote was about removing equalization, he actually wants to use it as leverage to address all federal transfers that he feels are unfair to Alberta.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that Kenney knows the federal government can’t unilaterally change the Constitution.

Trudeau said it can only be done with “significant consensus” involving Ottawa working with seven provinces or territories representing more than 50 per cent of the population.

He also questioned why Kenney was campaigning against an equalization program that was last tweaked by a federal Conservative cabinet that included Kenney.

Equalization sees some tax money collected by the federal government redistributed from wealthier provinces to lower-income ones to ensure a basic level of service for all.

Kenney has said Alberta has concerns over billions of dollars its residents pay, while provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec obstruct oil and pipeline projects that underpin that wealth.

Alberta estimates it pays in $20 billion a year to the equalization program. It has rarely been a net beneficiary of equalization since the program was created in 1957.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Alberta