‘Fair Deal Panel’ wraps up provincewide tour in Airdrie

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WATCH: The "Fair Deal Panel" is tasked with finding how Alberta can have a stronger voice in the Confederation. Many attendees at Airdrie's town hall on Monday night pointed to separation while others cautioned against it. Michael King reports – Jan 28, 2020

An Alberta “Fair Deal Panel” town hall that was postponed earlier this month due to a panellist’s death was held in Airdrie on Monday.

READ MORE: ‘Fair Deal Panel’ town hall scheduled for Airdrie cancelled due to panellist’s death

The UCP government said the panel consults Albertans on how to “define and secure a fair deal,” namely having a bigger role within the Confederation and advocating for the province’s economic interests.

The stop in Airdrie was the final one on the panel’s list, but MLAs can choose to host their own meetings in smaller communities that weren’t part of the tour.

Franco Terrazzano, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said his message to the panel was that Alberta has been paying more to Ottawa — and by extension, to other provinces — than it has received.

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“Not only are Albertans looking for more fairness, but I think we’re also looking for more autonomy and more accountability,” he said, adding that there is economic merit to pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan.

“We should have more control on how we collect and spend revenue.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s ‘Fair Deal Panel’ holds town hall in Calgary

Rod Blair, a retired oil and gas worker who lives west of Calgary, told the panel he is concerned for Alberta’s place within the country but doesn’t want rash decision-making.

“We would like to make Canada work, but I also agree with the sentiment that was expressed that if it proves to not be workable, then Alberta would indeed be better off on our own,” he said.

“I also would be hopeful that if we could take some positive steps with the rest of Canada, there may be a greater realization, particularly in central Canada, how unfair the situation is.”

Blair said he wants to take a step-by-step approach to improve the province’s affairs on an “incremental basis.”

“We know so many people and so many young people that can’t get jobs. We have no real prospects. We know people that have lost their jobs, lost their businesses. The next step is they’ll lose their homes,” he said.

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READ MORE: Third Alberta ‘Fair Deal Panel’ town hall in Calgary sells out

The government said the panel has to submit a report on its findings by March 31.

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