The Danielle Smith-led UCP government hasn’t put in all this effort for nothing, all this dough, all this persuasion, to just throw in the towel.

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Unless Albertans take to the barricades and bang the drums and shout a loud collective No you know there will be a vote.

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There will be a referendum on whether Alberta should exit the Canada Pension Plan.

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The smart money says it’s just a matter of time. The ducks are not in a row just yet. The announcement of a vote of Albertans would be premature.

But the die is cast.

The Danielle Smith-led UCP government hasn’t put in all this effort for nothing, all this dough, all this persuasion, to just throw in the towel.

There are too many in the government who think an Alberta Pension Plan, the APP, is the best thing to happen since the pop-up toaster.

They say Albertans are being screwed royally by the Canada Pension Plan.

They promise lower pension contributions when you’re working and bigger monthly payouts when you retire if you choose an Alberta Pension Plan.

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Maybe even a big fat retirement bonus.

Besides, it is a poke in the eye to the prime minister and his Liberal government.

The rallying cry is More Alberta, Less Ottawa.

But the idea hasn’t caught on, at least not yet.

A nose count earlier this month by Leger showed just over one in four Albertans counted by the pollster wanted Alberta to create its own pension plan and dump the CPP.

That was up six points since April but it was still only 27% support.

Oh, the Smith government probably has their own numbers and their arithmetic is probably rosier.

And the Leger did show just over half of UCP voters, that is 54%, now back an exit from CPP.

For the NDP voters, only six out of a hundred are hip to the pension pullout.

So it all adds up to 27% for the exit from CPP and 48% against and 24% saying they don’t know.

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Those 55 and older are the most opposed to the Alberta Pension Plan.

And those strongly disagreeing with the exit are far greater in number than those agreeing on saying hasta la vista to the CPP.

Last Friday in Calgary, Nate Homer, Smith’s point man on the APP, says there are going to be lots of “objective ways” to find out what Albertans want.

It will be more than just a feeling.

OK, but what are these objective ways to find out what Albertans are thinking?

Surely they can’t be the government’s current telephone town halls because, to the best of this scribbler’s knowledge, no running count is being done of who supports and who opposes saying bye-bye to the CPP.

Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner
Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

From what the premier has gathered, speaking in Edmonton on Monday, Smith says Albertans want more information.

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Smith says folks “with an open mind” want to know how the Alberta pension would work for those moving to Alberta after contributing to CPP and those leaving the province after contributing to the Alberta pension.

She also says people want to know how much Alberta could take out of the CPP to set up a provincial pension plan.

Smith is sticking to her number.

She says her government hired deep thinkers who did the math and found Albertans would score a bonanza of bucks.

She wants to see what Ottawa thinks Alberta should score.

She hopes the feds don’t take long or there could be “legal wrangling.”

But, says Smith, when the final number is on the table, they will “get a final picture” on whether Albertans want to vote on leaving the CPP for an Alberta pension.

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The premier doesn’t mention the issue of trust.

Will enough Albertans trust the government with their pension money especially since, again according to the Leger nose count, most Albertans see the CPP as well-managed?

Commentators are playing the full-court press.

Travis Toews, former premier Jason Kenney’s budget boss, steps back into the ring.

Toews says the LifeWorks outfit who did the look-see on an Alberta Pension Plan and churned out the numbers the Smith government is using to sell the provincial plan employs quite possibly the biggest big brains on this issue in the entire country.

The man throws down the gauntlet.

“There are many opinions on the feasibility, merits and risks of an APP. Not all opinions are created equal, however.”


Smith says more and more people are saying the Alberta Pension Plan is a good idea.

So how will the Smith government decide whether Albertans will vote in a referendum?

“In the end, if Albertans don’t want to go to a vote, we won’t go to a vote,” says Smith.

“If it’s unclear and it looks like they may want to go to a vote we will.”

That sure doesn’t look like a high bar. 

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