18 rolls of red tape? No thank you, Premier.

Edmonton, like many other cities, has increasingly started to work directly with the federal government for various project and program funding. Not to intentionally bypass the provincial government, but if you can get the money from the feds, you might not need it from the province. And we need funding wherever we can get it.

Of course, the feds like it because they can attach their own ideological strings, which drives the province crazy.

The UCP government has political and practical reasons to take issue with much of the Trudeau Liberal policy book. Albertans in general seem dissatisfied with the current Liberal government, and Albertans inclined to vote for the UCP are doubly so. Without a doubt the Premier gets positive feedback from her most avid supporters when she picks fights with Ottawa. And quite frankly Ottawa loves to use Alberta as a punching bag to gain favor in other parts of Canada.

So as the elected leader of our province the Premier has a responsibility to defend Alberta.

Since municipalities exist by way of provincial legislation and not Canada’s Constitution, the province can essentially do to cities as it pleases. Through Bill 18, the Smith government is insisting on inserting itself into all funding agreements between the federal government and municipalities and universities in Alberta. 

The province’s website says: “Bill 18 would require provincial entities to obtain prior approval from Alberta’s government before entering into, amending, extending or renewing an agreement with the federal government.” 

This is a terrible idea. It will slow down federal funding into Edmonton. It involves more government when we need less. This simply isn’t a justifiable position for Alberta to take. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Doesn’t the Province have something better to do?

Edmonton is under intense financial pressure from all sides. We are now staring down an 8.7% tax increase just to keep doing the same things. We have immense needs in housing, infrastructure and providing better options for those suffering in our streets. We are in absolutely no position to turn down a dollar from any government for any reason. And the Premier knows this – in fact she recently expressed concerns about our finances in public, to a reporter.

The provincial government talks endlessly about the battle it is waging against Red Tape, which is generally taken to mean “unnecessary government bureaucracy”. So why on earth would the UCP want to get in the middle of funding agreements between the City of Edmonton and Canada? Do we really need provincial bureaucrats assessing every interaction we have with the feds? 

I have similar concerns about how Bill 18 will affect critical, potentially life saving and other important research at the University of Alberta. I would prefer that all orders of governments make it easier for Universities to do necessary research, not harder.

We have a hard enough time getting a fair shake from Ottawa, there is no reason on earth we would ever want to add more layers of government between a federal dollar and a project in Edmonton.

I get that the Premier doesn’t like the Prime Minister, and seems to see municipal-federal agreements as an end-run around her government. 

Fair enough. 

I say we don’t have the luxury of being precious about where our money comes from. If Mr. Trudeau wants to spread it around then the Premier needs to let Edmonton have a crack at getting our share. We need the money. And the Premier knows that. 

I for one will do my best to make sure we use it on the things that improve our city and help the people who need help the most.

Timothy Cartmell


Honoured to be the City Councillor in Edmonton's Ward pihêsiwin. #yegcc #Wardpihêsiwin