AB Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff will face off next month.
Credits: IAN KUCERAK/EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY / CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/ QMI AGENCY
CALGARY — Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will face off next month over equalization payments at an event held in Calgary.
Dubbed "Would the End of Equalization Mean the End of Canada?" the $120-a-seat dinner and debate, hosted by the Calgary Enterprise Forum Society, will take place Oct. 18 at the Calgary Petroleum Club.
Smith said in her view, the equalization program, which is up for renewal in 2014, needs to be reformed.
"I've always taken the view that equalization is not working very well for Alberta and it's certainly not working very well for the 'Have Not' provinces," she said Sunday from New Orleans.
"It's meant to be a temporary measure, and yet for some provinces, it's become a permanent way of them augmenting their revenues.
"We've got to get to a point where every province can chart a path to financial independence. I think we won't be able to do that with the program as it exists today."
She said part of the problem with the program is that it rewards provinces for having bad tax policies.
Smith said she's looking forward to discussing the topic with Ignatieff.
"He is a very intelligent man, it's a real opportunity to be able to share some thoughts with him," she said.
"Hopefully we'll find some areas of agreement though I suspect we'll find a number of areas of disagreement and we'll see what the audience thinks -- but I think it's an important conversation for us to begin."
Ignatieff, now a senior fellow of political science at the University of Toronto, said he too is looking forward to the event.
"Alberta's place in the federation and its role in Canada's future is the most interesting question in Canadian politics so I'm looking forward to talking about this in Calgary and meeting Danielle Smith, whom I've never met," he said via email from Greece Sunday.