Fort McMurray Frustration Felt Through Fair Deal Panel

Fort McMurray has had its say on how Alberta can secure a fair deal within the Federation.

On Wednesday, Alberta’s Fair Deal panel was in town to consult locals on what they feel the biggest issues are facing Albertans and how we can rectify these issues.

Around a hundred residents came out, but there was a notable amount of empty chairs at the Quality Inn in Gregoire.

Residents voiced their opinion on topics such as pipelines, treatment of Indigenous peoples, establishing an Albertan police force as well as a general disdain for the Canada Pension Plan.

Speaking to reporters, MLA for Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Tany Yao says while Albertans are proud to be Canadian – there’s a feeling of being left out.

“When there are billions of dollars being given away to other provinces, it’s hard not to have those feelings. Otherwise, you’re seeing the same kind of ratios – you’re always going to see those who are pro-confederation and those who want to separate.”

Photo by: Brandon Piper//Harvard Broadcasting

One of the ideas being explored by the panel involves opting-out of the Canada Pension Plan and creating an Alberta Pension Plan.

The concept of alternative pipeline routes that would seek routes other than out west and establishing a provincial police force was also discussed.

Panel member Donna Kennedy-Glans says the general consensus is that the province is feeling angry and frustrated with our situation.

“The really big constant is when people say ‘this is my home, I’m willing to do what I can to make Alberta a stronger place.’ That’s where I think the resonance lies right now.”

All Albertans still have a chance to provide input online and through other forms of direct feedback, as public consultations continue until January 30.

Yao says following panels in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and now Fort McMurray – he’s feeling the disappointment and frustration all across the province.

“Our oil and gas industry I think over the last five years lost around 100,000 jobs. Whereas look at what our Prime Minister was doing with SNC-Lavellin where he’s supposedly protecting around 10,000 jobs. It just doesn’t add up.”

The panel’s next stop will be in Fort Saskatchewan on Thursday.

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