Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Mr. Speaker, the long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over."

To be replaced by a prolonged period of shouting.

In fairness, provincial Premiers will never be satisfied with the federal government. Flaherty's failure to create a satisfactory solution to the fiscal imbalance shouldn't surprise anyone, since:

  1. The fiscal imbalance doesn't exist; and
  2. Premiers need the issue more than they need the money.
Flaherty's real offense was his smugness in making a claim that was so blatantly full of crap.

5 comments:

foottothefire said...

Well now, that is their signature isn't it? Smug's n' Smirks n' Sneers?

Steve Marsh said...

n' Smears.

cenobyte said...

The fiscal imbalance doesn't exist

Really?

Can you explain this to me, please? I'm not being purposefully obtuse (I don't think), but to me, it does seem like there is a problem...of course, I live in one of "those" provinces whose premier is in the process of shouting, so perhaps I've been polluted with propaganda...

Steve Marsh said...

I'm not saying that everything's hunky dory, but the "Fiscal Imbalance" is a fiction created to suggest that the federal government has all the money and power and that it needs to give more the the helpless provinces.

But the provinces have the same ability to generate revenue through taxation as does Ottawa. But of course raising taxes is politically unpopular, and Premiers who want to get re-elected generally prefer to shift responsibility. And in fairness, it's not a bad strategy, from a political point of view. If they get more money, they're heroes, and if not it's someone else's fault.

The equalization program is intended to redistribute wealth to ensure that all provinces can provide at least a minimal level of service in delivering social programs. It's not an ATM.

Now, I'm not one of the three people who actually understand the equalization formula, and I'm sure there are ways it could be made more equitable. But I'm equally sure that it's impossible to fix it so that everyone's completely happy. By definition, someone has to give something up, in order for others to get what they need.

All that said, I think Premier Calvert has good reason to be upset right now. Saskatchewan has just recently joined the 'Have' club, and the province needs support in order to solidify its fiscal strength and stability. Unfortunately, it can't deliver as many Conservative MPs as can Quebec.

cenobyte said...

Maybe SK could time-share MPs with some other parts of the country?

(sigh)

I think terms like "fiscal imbalance" are red herrings most of the time anyway. What's driving folks 'back home' here nuts is that while sure, SK is now considered a 'have' province, there is this cap on the amount of non-renewable natural resource revenues we're allowed to *keep*. I have no problem with the idea of SK no longer *receiving* payments from the Federal Government, but insisting that we can only keep so much of what we generate just further promulgates the concept of Saskatchewan as the slightly retarded younger sibling who can't be trusted with Mom's twenty-dollar bill, and is sent to the corner store to buy cigarettes with a chaperone, an accountant, and a phone call to make sure that the right change is returned.

Maybe I don't understand the equalisation situation; that's what I *think* is happening with the cap, which just makes my teeth itch. Particularly since the twenty-dollar-bill that Mom is sending with us to the store to buy her cigarettes was actually from our paper route, and shouldn't have been in Mom's purse in the first place.