With Alberta about to embark on a constitutional referendum in less than a year, it's important to understand what's at stake (and what's not).

This gambit isn't about the equalization principle in the constitution, let alone the formula. (Thread) #ableg #cdnpoli
To some observers, this equalization referendum is the Kenney government's attempt to change the channel on its handling of the pandemic and economy...

...by shifting blame to the federal government and the rest of Canada.
The premier has publicly admitted that this referendum is not really about removing the equalization principle from the constitution. That would require the consent of Parliament and other provincial governments (many of whom receive equalization payments).
Rather, this referendum is an attempt to gain "leverage" -- getting the federal government to the table to discuss, above all else, the formula for the fiscal stabilization fund.
After successful pressure from the Alberta government, the federal government reformed that formula a few weeks ago. Not everything is resolved, which is why Albertans will be asked to go to the polls in Oct 2021: to put more pressure on Ottawa to make further reforms.
Combined, Trudeau's adjustments to the fiscal stabilization formula and Harper's changes to the Canada Health Transfer have resulted in billions more federal dollars flowing into Alberta. The CHT changes net Alberta $1B+/year alone.
Jason Kenney's role in negotiating these gains 👆🏽was significant and should be applauded.
So, if Alberta's made gains, why go to a referendum on "scrapping equalization from the constitution?" Two among several possible theories:
1) Kenney may feel this vote will bring soft separatists back into the UCP fold. A vote that has no hope of actually scrapping equalization will be thin gruel for most Wexiteers...
...but the gesture might be enough for those who want to let off some steam. A referendum would be an opportunity to get that part of the UCP base to rally behind the premier and the flag.
2) Kenney may feel that the vote will bolster his negotiating position with the federal government on other elements of fiscal federalism. This is modeled on what some view as QC's successful use of strategic referendums. This strategy is less likely to work than the first.
The Trudeau Liberals' path back to a majority government doesn't run through Alberta. The province doesn't have the same electoral clout as others, like Quebec.
And while Kenney did a great job bringing other premiers on board his call to reform fiscal stabilization, now that the feds have made some meaningful changes to that formula, it's less likely those premiers will be as forceful.
Indeed, combined with the purchase of a pipeline, these recent stabilization reforms may have Canadians in other parts of the country wondering: how much more do we have to give to satisfy Alberta? Caving further might hurt Trudeau's party, without much prospect for gains.
All eyes will be on Ottawa and the other provincial governments in the lead-up to the Oct 2021 Alberta referendum. Will they treat it seriously, or remain focused on handling their own public health emergencies and attempts at economic recovery?
If other governments do take it seriously, we should look for signs of their own constitutional posturing. The notion that Alberta could force other governments to negotiate a constitutional amendment is a contested one. They could just ignore the results of the referendum.
If other govts engage, though, expect them to bring their own constitutional grievances to the table. Opening up another round of mega-constitutional negotiations just as we emerge from a global pandemic and try to jumpstart our economy is likely to draw strange looks.
All this to say: Premier Kenney's choice to hold a constitutional referendum on scrapping equalization is an interesting, and risky, political strategy.

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More from @DrJaredWesley

17 Dec
It's confirmed: we'll be holding a referendum "to scrap equalization from the Constitution in Oct 2021." Here's why that's a risky idea: albertaviews.ca/referendum-goo… /1
Here's how Albertans felt about this idea in August 2020 (courtesy: @cgroundpolitics). /2
Here's some background on the politics of equalization. /3

Read 7 tweets
4 Dec
We can learn a lot about who politicians refer to as their "friends". In speeches & responses to questions, the people they choose to mention offer us insight into whose interests they're considering. (Thread) #ableg #COVID19AB
A few weeks ago, Premier Kenney talked about his encounter with a small business owner, who thanked him for his reluctance to lock down the economy.
In the same press conference, he mentioned his "friend" the ICU nurse. She was concerned about the health care system's capacity to withstand another surge of #COVID19AB cases.

Read 20 tweets
4 Dec
How has the pandemic impacted the practice and study of politics in Canada?

Share your insights at a virtual workshop as part of the @cpsa_acsp Annual Conference. (Thread)

Part 1 will explore theoretical and empirical insights gleaned from early research on the pandemic, including studies of political behaviour, public administration, political theory, and other subfields. Completed studies and research designs are welcome.
Part 2 will delve into the impact of the pandemic on political science pedagogy, inviting participants to share lessons and promising practices in the areas of teaching and supervision. Empirical studies of different teaching methodologies (e.g., remote teaching) are welcome.
Read 6 tweets
22 Nov
(And to state the obvious: looking at Alberta through the eyes of Joe is wrought with issues intersectionality. It helps us understand why, for instance, the government fails to see the #shecession as a problem, let alone one worth solving.)
Or why they feel emboldened to hire curriculum advisors that seek to whitewash Alberta history, to create a War Room, to take on doctors & fill ICUs during a pandemic... Put simply: the UCP doesn't think Joe Albertan cares about those issues more than jobs and the economy. #ableg
The thing is: our research shows that Joe is not the median Albertan voter. Joe is who we think the average Albertan is. But he is not an aggregation of Albertan attitudes. He's a myth.
Read 8 tweets
22 Nov
A great question. I can offer a partial answer.

Governments are motivated by a host of factors, including their party's ideological principles, public opinion, and their sense of what the community will accept.

The latter is what many call "political culture." (Thread)
Political culture is the unspoken norms that guide politics in a particular community. These values define the boundaries of acceptability - of what's okay to say, think, or do.
In the case of pandemic response, political culture is embodied in our collective sense of "what Albertans will accept," whether it be mandatory masking, vaccination, or lockdowns.
Read 16 tweets
22 Nov
Many people are criticising Conservative governments in Canada for mishandling the pandemic.

Most cite these parties' ideological commitment to *conservatism* as their major failing.

This isn't entirely accurate or fair. (Thread)
Canada is home to several variants of conservatism. The two most pertinent to this conversation are old right toryism and new right neo-liberalism.
Toryism is a collectivist form of conservatism - one that views society as more than a sum of individuals. The term "social fabric" was coined by a tory (E. Burke) to capture this sentiment.
Read 10 tweets

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