Wheatland County passed its controversial Alberta First Resolution, although the support was not overwhelming, and it was without its most striking demand, to call for a vote for separation.
Councillor Jason Wilson introduced this resolution at a meeting on Tuesday, November 5. This is a resolution to take the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) to lobby the provincial government. This resolution asks for taking action on several issues including withdrawing from the Canadian Pension Plan, to collect personal income tax, remove equalization from the constitution, senate reform, replace the RCMP and take control of immigration.
At its council meeting on Tuesday, December 16 Wheatland Council heard from several residents arguing in favour and against this resolution. Opponents questioned the jurisdiction of a county council addressing provincial and federal matters. While proponents argued it is important to take a firm stand.
Councillor Wilson reacted to one presenter who argued this is a partisan issue and questioned whether councillors were voting on their own personal beliefs or what their constituents wished.
“I ran for my council seat in 2017 on certain values, conservative values. I was raised as a conservative, not under a party, but I have conservative values. I believe in limited government, I believe in fiscal accountability,” he said.
“When I was running I went door-to-door and said I am a small “c” conservative and if you don’t agree with those values, I am not your guy… I will stand up for conservative values and I will vote based on those values.”
Councillor Glenn Koester had a different take.
“I am conservative and have been all my life… but that is personally. I don’t come into this room and vote because I am conservative, I don’t make decisions for the county because it is a conservative thing to do,” he said. “… I come in here and listen to my ratepayers and my ratepayers say they want better gravel roads, they are deteriorating. We worked with staff to reclaim 80 kilometres of roads, we have added two grader divisions and the complaint level has gone down. We’ve done paving and I have not done it because I’m conservative or for my personal values or because I want a paved road by my house? No. I listen to my ratepayers and that’s how I vote.”
Reeve Amber Link presented the results of an online survey regarding the resolution. Out of 144 respondents, 140 identified as Wheatland residents. It showed that 31 per cent of respondents supported the resolution, while 69 per cent did not.
Council first voted to amend the resolution to strike out “If the federal government does not deal with these demands in good faith; If they block, hinder or otherwise prevent Alberta from exercising its rights as outlined above, the Government of Alberta will hold a referendum with a “clear question”, as defined by the Clarity Act on the secession of Alberta from the Canadian Confederation during the 31st Alberta General Election, which must be held between March 1st and May 31st, 2023.”
This motion passed. Council then voted on the amended resolution with a recorded vote. It passed with a vote of 4-3, with councillors Wilson, Tom Ikert, Scott Klassen, and Donna Biggar voting in favour and councillors Ben Armstrong and Glenn Koester, and Reeve Link voting opposed.
This could now go to its district to be endorsed by other member municipalities, or it can be presented as an individual resolution.
If the resolution passes a vote and is endorsed by the RMA, it will be entered into the RMA’s advocacy strategy and be effective for three years.