‘You are the victims but we are all the losers’: Calgary conference discusses Alberta’s place in Confederation

Around 700 people attended a one-day conference in Calgary on Saturday to discuss Alberta’s place in the Confederation.

The Value of Alberta conference was hosted by Alberta Proud.

One of the speakers was Joe Oliver, who was finance minister in Stephen Harper’s government when changes were made to Canada’s equalization payment formula.

In Calgary on Saturday, he said more fairness is needed when it comes to transfer payments.

“If Alberta suffers a downturn and it is still a contributor, then clearly there is a problem with the formula,” Oliver said.

More autonomy for Alberta was the biggest topic at the conference.

As for talk of separation, Oliver said he is opposed.

“It would be highly regrettable if it ever came to that but there is a deep alienation that people in the east don’t fully appreciate,” Oliver said.

Calgary economist Jack Mintz said at the conference that the equalization formula needs an overhaul in part because the transfers are not supportive of provinces that face a downturn.

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