Fourteen town hall meetings were held by Alberta’s “Fair Deal” panel last winter and thousands of Albertans took the time to attend these meetings and share their thoughts. Over 40,000 citizens who couldn’t go to meetings in person filled out online surveys for the panel on how they felt Alberta could seek more autonomy within confederation. Albertans took the mandate of the panel seriously and contributed to it. Albertans paid the bill for this panel as well. Now after multiple delays, the “Fair Deal” panel has released its report and Jason Kenney has decided that Albertans don’t deserve to see it.
Jason Kenney has proven to be a high achiever indeed in choosing to withhold the panel report until he determines that it may be politically expedient for his government. Usually, it takes a few years for a government to reach that pinnacle of arrogance in completely forgetting that their mandate is to serve the electorate rather than itself.
The pandemic provides weak cover indeed for Kenney in his refusal to release the panel conclusions. It is simply a report. It doesn’t demand immediate changes or actions on the part of the government. It won’t stop the government from acting on pandemic issues. If anything, now is a perfect time to let Albertans read and discuss the conclusions of this panel. We have an unprecedented amount of free time on our hands.
Why does Jason Kenney feel that Albertans can’t see the panel report? Did the panel members make conclusions that Kenney didn’t expect or like? Did the feedback from Albertans conclude things that Kenney didn’t expect or like? Does he feel we are perhaps simply too weak of mind to process such a report if unguided by government?
None of the reasons matter in reality. The “Fair Deal” panel report isn’t Kenney’s to withhold. That report is the property of Albertans.
Kenney boldly promised a few months ago that he was putting citizens’ initiated referenda legislation at the top of the list for the coming session of the legislature. That promise appears to have completely vanished. Does Kenney fear what Albertans may do if empowered by both the conclusions of the “Fair Deal” report and the ability to initiate a referendum on one or more of the recommendations? Does he not trust us with our own information?
The outlook is dire for Albertans both economically and with individual rights as governments on all levels begin to wrestle with how to deal with the fallout from the pandemic lockdown. It is critical that we establish our path and our role within confederation in order to bring about as smooth a recovery as possible. The “Fair Deal” panel report may contain some good recommendations on how we should proceed as a province. Unfortunately, Jason Kenney doesn’t feel he can trust Albertans with their own information. I hope that Premier Kenney understands that Albertans are fast losing trust in him as well.
Release the report now Premier Kenney. There is no excuse to delay any further.