Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Martin and McGuinty Trade Barbs

Prime Minister Martin has replied to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and he didn't do so favourably. Martin claimed that the Premier was complaining out of purely political reasons, seeking an advantage against Queen's Park's powerful Tories.

"It is the essence that every province be treated fairly and Ontario is certainly being treated fairly...Sometimes provincial governments think the best way to get re-elected is to run against the federal government; that goes back 150 years."
Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were recently given incredibly generous equalization deals which guarantee the provinces $2.6 and $1.1 billion respectively. In addition, they will not lose any of their offshore energy income.

Premier McGuinty has complained that the deal violate the principles of the equalization program. He has further pointed out a series of injustices Ontario suffers for the benefit of the rest of the country. The province contributes $23B more to the Feds than it receives in return and also gets significantly less money per immigrant than the other provinces get from Ottawa.

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe (Eglinton-Lawrence), my MP, recently spoke with the Premier and attempted to explain to him other ways in which the feds help the province.

"I pointed out all of the advantages to Ontario of federal government decisions in the course of the last 10 years, the kind of decisions that have helped Ontario prosper and to make the kind of contributions that everybody envies."
74 Liberal MPs come from Ontario, and they have unanimously backed the Prime Minister.

Byron Wilfert, MP Richmond Hill, exclaimed that "The time to raise it is not after the fact ... We're not an ATM machine".

BC Premier Gordon Campbell suggested that his province will expect the same kind of deal should they ever discover offshore energy resources. Meanwhile, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams repeated the suggestion that McGuinty was doing this for political gain.

At this point, it appears as though the situation can only escalate. The Premier cannot back down and this point and now the Feds cannot either. Once again, the Prime Minister has backed himself into a corner with no safe way out. Congrats Paul, well done.

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