April 12, 2018 1:54 am

Slash payments to B.C.? Sure. Quit Canada? Why not: Kamloops politician’s tweet raises eyebrows

Dawna Friesen chats with Finance Minister Bill Morneau about his meeting with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. The two politicians met to talk about how to save the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

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“Cancel equalization payments to B.C. I dare you…”

That’s how Kamloops Coun. Donovan Cavers began a Wednesday tweet aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau amid a growing battle over the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Coverage of Kinder Morgan on Globalnews.ca:

Cavers, who was first elected to council in 2011, has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline expansion, having drawn the ire of the city’s chamber of commerce after he spoke out against the project at a hearing in 2016, Kamloops This Week reported.

On Wednesday, he raised more eyebrows with a tweet that looked like he was open to B.C. leaving Canada, and that contained some choice words for Trudeau.

“@JustinTrudeau Pull. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Montreal. B…,” he said at one point.

“Hey #Cascadia! looking pretty fit these days :)” he said at another.

That remark referred to Cascadia, a so-called “bioregion” that includes B.C., Washington, Oregon, northern California and other areas.

Some see Cascadia as its very own “economic cross-border region,” saying these areas have more in common with each other than they do other states and cities.

READ MORE: Kinder Morgan halts Trans Mountain pipeline expansion amid B.C. opposition

Cavers’ comments came days after Kinder Morgan announced that it had suspended all “non-essential activities and related spending” on the pipeline expansion, setting May 31 as a deadline for whether they’ll proceed.

The move touched off renewed tension between B.C., Alberta and the federal government.

Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney mused about Ottawa reducing transfer payments to B.C. — but unlike Cavers, he said nothing about equalization.

That may be because B.C. currently receives no equalization payments.

Equalization is a federal transfer program that helps less prosperous provinces provide their residents with services that are comparable with those in healthier economies.

B.C. has received no equalization money from the 2009-10 fiscal year onward, and isn’t expected to for the foreseeable future.

Equalization payments as reported by the federal government.

Government of Canada

The province does, however, bring in money through two kinds of transfer payments: the Canada Health Transfer, which targets the health care system, and the Canada Social Transfer, which targets areas such as social assistance and education.

Cavers told Global News he wouldn’t be available for an interview until Friday morning.

But in the meantime, his tweet drew plenty of reaction — including from Terry Lake, a former Kamloops MLA and cabinet minister.

Plenty of other Twitter users took exception with Cavers’ tweet, too.

Some, however, appeared to agree with him.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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