March 20, 2007

My Less Facetious Reasons for Supporting this Budget

I am often accused of caring only for Quebec, when in fact I care for this whole country. Some people, like my co-blogger Alex, want to play games with the numbers. We all know Paul Martin made progress on the fiscal imbalance. Jean Charest has been saying so for a while. Many journalists noted only 1 billion dollars was of new money for this fiscal year. Nobody ever tried to hide this fact.

The role of the federal government is not to attach a string to every dime it sends to the provinces. The BNA Act is not written that way. We are a country governed by rules. I say it’s about time we followed them.

Alex says day care money was cut and must therefore be subtracted. Social services like daycare fall solely into provincial jurisdiction and some of this fiscal imbalance money in provinces other than Quebec (who already has a great program) can take this money and create a child care program.

Alex spins himself into circles trying to knock a budget, which saw transfers to Quebec year-over-year increase 18%, while arguing among other things, that equalization shouldn’t count as extra revenue (even though it counted when Martin/Goodale increased it) and Alex also argued that QST money was lost because the 1% cut was also taxed before. It’s convoluted logic that Alex is putting forward…but he can certainly try to defend the indefensible…

I support today what I supported a year ago. My criticisms toward Dion’s position were made a year ago. I know some people spent the past year defending certain Liberals who supported resolving the fiscal imbalance. Today, they are the ones who are compromising their principles, not me.

In 1995, Paul Martin created the CHST, and if you look in today’s budget, you can see how even past 1995 into 1997, we were still cutting transfers to balance the books. This process was the federal government cutting from the main provincial programs like health care and education. In 2000, when the Liberal surpluses hit the tens of billions of dollars, the federal government chose to create programs with a bunch of strings on them, causing some provinces, namely Quebec, to get rather angry. We never gave the provinces the room to breathe like we used to. We preferred the more glamorous policy.

All we are asking is that the federal government restores transfer levels to pre-CHST. We are also asking the federal government stop intervening in provincial jurisdiction, which is why there is another fight coming, one which was in Meech, which Dion supported…

Liberals continue to deny their cuts in the 90s might have caused some of the crisis.

Today, Stephen Harper delivered on a promise that was made by Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, and Scott Brison less than a year ago. I do not care which party accomplishes a great feat. I only care that somebody came through for Quebecers and for Canadians today.

On an aside, the picture is one taken two years ago at a secret Tory BBQ, where I infamously caught half of Charest’s youth wing. It was facetious and basically a jab at Cherniak, who threw somebody off Liblogs for putting up an ad with layton…

I will always be Liberal. What I believe in are Liberal principles. If the Tories come through and deliver on these Liberal principles, we should applaud them.
There is no point opposing for the sake of opposing. In the end, only when we acknowledge our greatest weaknesses, can we take advantage of our biggest strengths…

19 Commentaires:

Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Great post Antonio.

There is no point opposing for the sake of opposing.

Very well said.

3/20/2007 12:27 a.m.  
Blogger PhillyC a dit...

Quebec got nearly half of the $1.5 billion, yet comprise less than a quarter of the country's population. Quebec is endowed with many natural resources, yet Quebecers choose to work the fewest hours per week on average across Canada.

What gives?

3/20/2007 3:03 a.m.  
Blogger Jason Cherniak a dit...

"I will always be a Liberal, even if it mean I support the Conservatives."

What a crock of $#!@.

3/20/2007 10:53 a.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Jason, be logical for once.

What about the Free-Trade Deal??? Some Liberals supported the Tories, others didn't.

A little history lesson... in the end, the Liberal party, when in power, chose to endorse it.

What Antonio said is valid. You can be a member of a party and not agree with every single thing. In a democracy, having different opinions is HEALTHY, and people shouldn't be ostracised and put on a witch-hunt for holding a different view on a particular subject.

I would think you, of all people, would understand that, but I may be giving you too much credit.

3/20/2007 12:12 p.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

Antonio is a Liberal. He's just an extremely decentralist Liberal, and the rest of us Liberals who actually believe in a federal government need to make sure decentralists like him don't manage to hijack the direction of the party. Otherwise they will restrict the federal spending power and we will become little more than a loose confederation.

3/20/2007 1:03 p.m.  
Blogger Fady a dit...

Dude I'm calling you Joe Comuzzi from now on...

3/20/2007 2:07 p.m.  
Blogger Mark a dit...

"MONTREAL, Que. - Liberal Premier Jean Charest says he'll give Quebecers tax cuts with some of the money the province received in the federal budget."

That should put an end to any discussion about the fiscal imbalance. Charest is as much a pig headed nationalistic liar as Boisclair or Dumont.

Someone let me know when a federalist runs for office in Quebec and I'll be happy to support 'em. In the meantime, I hope we've all learned a lesson from this silly charade.

3/20/2007 2:13 p.m.  
Blogger Mark a dit...

Shit. Paul Wells just wrote pretty much the same thing.

This is a scam. We've all been had.

"We're a nation too" should be our slogan in the next campaign.

3/20/2007 2:21 p.m.  
Blogger Scott Tribe a dit...

Pretty well word for word, Mark :)

The end part from his entry reads:

"You're right. This makes the final, definitive mockery of the whole argument about the fiscal imbalance, which for half a decade has been that "the money is in Ottawa, the needs are in the provinces."

Apparently the "need" in Quebec was for lower personal income taxes.

We know readers outside Quebec will be grateful for the contribution they've been permitted to make to Jean Charest's re-election fund."

3/20/2007 3:16 p.m.  
Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat a dit...

Harper and Flaherty are using the O'Brien equalization formula. The O'Brien study group was commissioned by Ralph Goodale.

Antonio is supporting an equalization formula from a study commissioned by a Liberal finance minister and supporting that.

If the Liberal's are stupid enough to let Harper take credit for solving the fiscal imbalance, well the Liberals are pretty stupid.

The O'Brien formula resolves Alberta's and Ontario's historic grievances that the non-equalization transfers to Alberta and Ontario were less on a per capita basis than for the have-not provinces.

Ralph Goodale should be screaming from the rafters that he was responsible for solving the fiscal imbalance.

(True, Paul Martin would have never adopted the O'Brien formula...because it forces the federal government to disperse money fairly based on rules, rather than at the whim of the prime minister.)

3/20/2007 3:35 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

who cares what charest does with the money...are you telling me Harper should tell provinces how to spend the money?

This is ridiculous

3/20/2007 3:51 p.m.  
Blogger Mark a dit...

The entire premise of the "imbalance" is shot. How can you plead for more money for your social program responsibilities, only to turn around and piss them away as tax cuts. It is completely intellectually dishonest.

The rest of us have had it with "couteau a la gorge".

I never thought it would come to this, but I hope Charest loses. It's the only way to prevent the next massive wave of decentralization.

To hell with Charest. At least with Boisclair the feds will think twice about falling for this kind of nonsense and show a bit of national vision.

To quote Trudeau after Meech, "Let it go with a bang, not with whimper"

He was right. This is a whimper.

And Harper is a wimp.

And Charest?

I'd rather not print it.

3/20/2007 4:12 p.m.  
Blogger Mark a dit...

Whoever posted this "...non-equalization transfers to Alberta and Ontario were less on a per capita basis than for the have-not provinces" makes no sense whatsoever.

And last I checked the prosperity gap between provinces was widening, not narrowing.

3/20/2007 4:32 p.m.  
Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat a dit...

//Whoever posted this "...non-equalization transfers to Alberta and Ontario were less on a per capita basis than for the have-not provinces" makes no sense whatsoever.//

Alberta and Ontario have been shortchanged for a decade on the health and social transfer in that they were not receiving the same per capital funding as other provinces.

Equalization was supposed to take care of equalization.

All the provinces should be get the same per capita treatment in other federal government transfers.

The O'Brien commission, which was commissioned by Goodale, and who recommendations have been now implemented in this budget by Harper and Flaherty fixes this flaw.

Dalton won't be complaining about the budget.

3/20/2007 4:45 p.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

The entire premise of the "imbalance" is shot. How can you plead for more money for your social program responsibilities, only to turn around and piss them away as tax cuts. It is completely intellectually dishonest.

Excellent point.

3/20/2007 5:02 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

From the Turner Report about this mornings reply to the budget by Gilles Duceppe,

"Following his remarks, Jim Flaherty’s Parliamentary Secretary, Diane Ablonczy, stood up to thank Duceppe for his support in propping up her government. He stood and answered in English, his eyes flashing and the colour rising in his cheeks. It’s about the money, he said, and after next Monday, when there is a sovereignist government in Quebec led by Andre Boiusclair, then Quebeckers will be spending this money on programs, for an independent Quebec.

He took his seat, to thunderous applause from his colleagues. Ablonczy sat opposite, looking devastated, with no reply.

It was a shameful moment, but one of insight. Stephen Harper is a sell-out.

UPDATE (3:30 pm) — Quebec premier Jean Charest announces he will, if re-elected on Monday, use the new cash from the feds for a universal tax cut for all Quebeckers. Yes, folks, Mr. Harper just bought an election, or gave it a damn good shot.

That's what you support Antonio. There is no fiscal imbalance. It is all a scam. Quebec spends too much and wants to blame everyone else. No real federal Liberal could support this.

3/20/2007 5:32 p.m.  
Blogger SteelCityGrit a dit...

Jean Charest effectively ended the debate today with his announcement. We won't get fooled again (well... I never was).

3/20/2007 6:01 p.m.  
Blogger Scott a dit...

Sigh, Antonio. Your continued mangling of the Chretien era is astonishing. See Dion's book, Straight Talk, pp. 18-20. If you don't have one, let me know at and I'll see if I can get you an autographed copy. Some choice quotes:

"Far from being rigid and immobile, our federation is constantly evolving, and that has not led to a bloated federal government. On the contrary, in the past four decades, we have seen a gradual and remarkable redistribution of the federal government's taxing and spending power to the provincial governments. For example, in 1950, the federal government collected $2.46 for every dollar or revenue collected by the provinces; in 1994, it collected only $0.96 (Dion 1999: 19)."

"Concerning the federal spending power, the federal government made a commitment in the last Throne Speech to no longer use its spending power to create new shared cost programs in areas in exclusive provincial jurisdiction without the consent of a majority of the provinces (Dion 1999: 19-20)."

"Leaders of state and provincial governments in our two countries have expressed concern that budget-cutting at the national level will be off-loading: in the U.S. through what you call unfunded mandates, and in Canada through cuts in transfer payments. You will not have any difficulty in finding provincial premiers who suggest that there has been off-loading. But let me tell you that between 1994-95 and 1998-99, transfer entitlements will fall by 10.5%, while total federal department spending will decline by 21.5%. Furthermore, provinces were notified a year in advance that such cuts were going to be necessary. Making decisions about budget cuts is tough. But I can assure you that despite the need to make such cuts, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Minister of Finance Paul Martin and our government have chosen to cut spending significantly in areas such as transportation in order to preserve our social programs. We are ensuring that cuts, where necessary, are fair to all provinces (Dion 1999: 40-41)."

There's nothing wrong with having principles Antonio. The problem is that yours have nothing to do with reality.

3/20/2007 8:57 p.m.  
Blogger canuckistanian a dit...

scott: please refrain from using 'facts' when arguing your point of view here...they get in the way of antonio's beliefs.

3/21/2007 7:25 p.m.  

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