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Alberta ready for conversation over potential CPP withdrawal, finance minister says

Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner says he's looking forward to a future meeting with his provincial and federal counterparts on his province's potential withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan.

Trudeau, Poilievre both oppose possible provincial withdrawal

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Alberta's finance minister says he's looking forward to a future meeting with his provincial and federal counterparts on his province's potential withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan.

In an interview with Rosemary Barton Live airing Sunday, Nate Horner also said Alberta is within its rights to contemplate its own pension plan.

"It's Albertans' right to have the conversation, but I certainly welcome the conversations with other Canadian leaders — I look forward to it," he told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

The Albertan government has announced a consultation process that it says could lead to an eventual referendum on the possibility of creating an independent pension for the province, separate from the national Canada Pension Plan (which does not include Quebec).

WATCH | Alberta finance minister discusses pension proposal:

Alberta leaving Canada Pension Plan won't make it 'insolvent,' Alberta’s finance minister says

13 hours ago

Duration 7:59

Featured VideoAlberta Finance Minister Nate Horner discusses the proposal to pull his province out of the Canada Pension Plan. Horner says if an Alberta pension plan is pursued, it won't make the CPP 'insolvent or inoperable, it means that the cost will have to go up somewhat.'

Earlier this week, Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy asked for finance ministers across the country to discuss the idea. Alberta's withdrawal would have financial consequences both for those living in that province and for Canadians still governed by the plan.

It's unclear when that meeting will happen, or if it will occur as part of the traditional finance ministers' meetings that often happen in December.

"We're more than happy to pay our fair share, which we know will be more than elsewhere. But we would also like to be the economic engine of the country, and not have federal intentions around stopping that," Horner said.

A report commissioned by the province and put together by the company Lifeworks indicated that Alberta would be entitled to 53 per cent of the CPP's assets.

That claim, and the broader push by the Alberta government, has been met with stiff opposition by politicians across the country.

"The harm it would cause is undeniable," wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an open letter addressed to Smith. "Withdrawing Albertans from the Canada Pension Plan would expose millions of Canadians to greater volatility and would deny them the certainty and stability that has benefited generations."

LISTEN | Breaking down the potential of an Alberta Pension Plan:

West of Centre42:26Exit right or stay put

Featured VideoAn escalating war of words between governments, politicians and organizations over the possibility of an Alberta Pension Plan. How is this policy playing out in federal politics? And how are Albertans talked to about it? This week, host Kathleen Petty is joined by Jim Dinning, who is leading public consultations for the province. Then, she chats with Federal Seniors Minister Seamus O’Regan.

"I encourage Albertans to stay in the CPP," said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, while blaming Trudeau for stoking division on the issue and restricting Alberta's economy.

The 53 per cent figure has been a lightning rod throughout the debate over the issue, with some economists like Trevor Tombe arguing that Alberta would reasonably be entitled to much less.

"What I've said to Minister Freeland, what the premier's said, is if this is wrong … if this interpretation analysis is wrong, then tell us what the number is," Horner told Barton.

Mixed feelings on carbon tax changes

Horner also spoke with Barton about recent changes to the federal carbon tax, which Trudeau announced Thursday.

The measures, which primarily address home heating oil and the affordability of heat pumps, are most relevant in Atlantic Canada. That's led to criticism from elsewhere in Canada, where natural gas is more prevalent, that the policy leaves out the rest of Canadians.

"I'm very happy for my Atlantic cousins, but I certainly think it's unfair," Horner said.

The provincial finance minister said he saw this as an admission by the federal government that the carbon tax did have an affect on affordability, but he argued that the response was "frankly ridiculous."

"It's time that our federal leadership admits that the retail carbon tax is an abysmal failure."

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