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Brownlee and the Natural Resources Transfer

Alberta rancherWhen Alberta entered into Confederation, the province, along with Saskatchewan and Manitoba, was not given control of its natural resources like the other Canadian provinces. This very act had placed the province of Alberta on unequal footing with the original Canadian provinces. Premier John E. Brownlee was the man who would finally succeed in getting the province of Alberta control over its natural resources. 

The origins of the debate between the federal government and the provincial government date back to 1925 where a special committee was formed to discuss granting control over natural resources to the province. However, an agreement was not reached at this time. On December 11, 1929, Premier Brownlee would meet with Prime Minister King to finally succeed in obtaining control of the province's natural resources. Premier John Brownlee Brownlee firmly stated that the province of Alberta wanted a natural resources settlement similar to the one that the King government had granted to the province of Manitoba which included a perpetual subsidy and a one time payment of over four million dollars. King, in turn, argued that the settlement that Manitoba had received was to place Manitoba on equal footing to the province of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Brownlee then argued that Alberta's lands had been alienated much more than Manitoba's for federal government functions, such as the building of the railway. King was far from impressed with Brownlee's arguments and the meeting ended on a bitter note with both men angrily storming out of the session. 

The men did reunite for an afternoon meeting where Brownlee told King that R.B. Bennett, the leader of the official opposition , felt that Alberta should receive a more favorable agreement than Manitoba for the alienation of Alberta's land. This argument was quite compelling as King told his cabinet that a deal had to be made with the province. In the end, an agreement was finally reached. Alberta had succeeded in obtaining control of its natural resources. Alberta would also receive an annual payment from the federal government that varied depending on the population of the province. The deal was finalized on December 14, 1929, placing the province of Alberta for once and for all on equal footing with the other Canadian provinces.

 

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Information written and provided by Maria Elizabeth Vicente, MA

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