'Alberta pays': Bloc Quebecois leader mockingly pitches green equalization in Canada

The leader of the federal Bloc Quebecois shot back at Alberta and its equalization referendum Wednesday suggesting a renegotiation of a different sort.

"Let's reopen the constitution. Gonna have a party," Yves-Francois Blanchet told reporters when asked about the Oct. 18 vote.

"We propose green equalization, according to which, we calculate the average emissions of a jurisdiction in Canada. Those that are above this calculation, let's say Alberta pays, and those that are under this average level receive the money because they perform well in terms of climate change," Blanchet suggested.

A Government of Canada report found Alberta had the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in 2019, nearly three times as much as Quebec.

Sixty-two per cent of Albertans who voted agreed with Premier Jason Kenney that equalization should be removed from the Canadian constitution.

KENNEY RESPONDS TO BLANCHET

Kenney was asked about Blanchet's comments during a COVID-19 briefing in Edmonton Wednesday afternoon.

He accused the Bloc leader of seeking to divide and said Blanchet was again attacking Alberta's energy industry, which only benefits foreign oil providers.

"I think this is a typical provocation by Mr. Blanchet, who loves Alberta bashing. It would be nice if for once he stood up, as leader of his fringe party, and expressed some modicum of gratitude to Alberta," Kenney said, ignoring the issue of greenhouse gases.

Earlier in the day, Kenney spoke about the referendum for more than 30 minutes in the legislature, promoting his motion that he said demands a "fair deal" from Canada.

"Albertans have contributed net $630 billion more to the rest of Canada than we've received back from Ottawa in transfers and benefits since 1965," he said, referencing a University of Calgary study.

The UCP premier called the vote a clear sign that Albertans registered their "frustration" at "decades of unfairness," and he named Blanchet's home province specifically.

"The province of Quebec saw its equalization transfers from the national government increase year after year after year to over $13 billion," Kenney said.

Alberta's premier spoke in French and complained about the National Energy Program from the 80s and the fight against pipelines that would move more Alberta bitumen to coastal waters.

"It is not acceptable for (Quebec) to play a de facto veto over pipelines that would help us to produce the wealth that effectively we transfer to Quebec," he said.

ALBERTA HAS A 'TOXIC ECONOMIC MODEL': BLANCHET

After speaking about "green equalization," Blanchet dropped another proposal.

"But I still say that the solution to all of that is for all of us, independivists or not, investing a significant amount of money in Alberta and western Canada in order to help them get out of this toxic economic model," he said, without providing further details.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poured cold water on the referendum the week it happened - saying it would need support from more than 50 per cent of Canadian voters to move forward.

Kenney is hoping his motion will force Trudeau and other provinces to renegotiate equalization, but so far only Saskatchewan has been supportive.

Equalization sees some tax money collected by the federal government redistributed from taxpayers in provinces with higher average incomes to lower-income ones to ensure a basic level of service for all.

Because of high wages, Albertans usually pay more into the program than they receive back in federal transfers.