March 21, 2007

People Need to Cut Jean Charest Some Slack

On the hotstove yesterday, I got a chance to re-iterate my position regarding the eventual solving of the fiscal imbalance. Some people still think it is separatist propaganda. Their minds will not change. Any idea that comes from the separatists is bad.

I guess that is why no other province in Canada has a child care program…

Monday’s budget gave Quebec a bit of breathing room with the shift in the equalization formula. A shift which was recommended by a committee set up by Ralph Goodale no less.

In terms of increasing actual transfers for 2007-2008, there was not all that much there. Most of the money there needed to fix the fiscal imbalance has been earmarked. I am satisfied that the payments will catch up over time.

I understand that Quebec receives more than it contributes. I understand that Quebec receives over 5 billion more than its taxpayers send to Ottawa (I should have said Quebec taxpayers yesterday, but that is what I meant, sorry for the confusion).

But what I think people should understand is that resolving the fiscal imbalance for ALL provinces is giving them back money they used to have in the early 90s to give to their social programs. This money was slashed. Nobody is arguing Ottawa is cash-strapped. In fact, it is flowing with surplus. The provinces are entitled to that money (there’s that word).

Some people jumped on Premier Charest for deciding that he was going to take some of money from the budget, and shift tax brackets upwards, something that all provinces save Alberta (cuz they don’t have brackets) have done since the economy started going much better in the late 90s. They claim the fiscal imbalance does not exist because of the decision of a Premier regarding governing his own province. These attacks are dishonest. They imply that Ottawa was right in never restoring the cuts they made to the social safety net in 1995.

I await the comments (if he will make them) of Bob Rae. An ardent supporter of the fiscal imbalance, Bob was the first to take the brunt of the federal cuts in Ontario, which made a bad situation worse. He knew how devastating these cuts were and made sure he got that message across to Canadians. I would be shocked to hear Bob pleased with the Liberal insistence of their denial.

Fact is, the federal government, who once spent 25% of Health Education and Social transfers, had fallen to 15% after the carnage was over. Is the solution pegging an amount to transfer and keeping it there?

The Bloc would say yes. They want tax points. Although when Harper offered them a GST point, they refused to take it…their hypocrisy here is without question.

Some others, and I fall into this camp, believe that transferring money is a solution. What Ottawa cuts form its coffers is its own business. Despite how the Constitution reads, convention has always been that when Ottawa has too much money, and the provinces need some to start a new pillar of the welfare state, Ottawa trades cash for standards, as was done in the aftermath of WWII. I am still a proponent of this system. However, the federal government, for years, was transferring a high percentage of the costs and went from that to much, much less.

I am called a decentralist because of the way I read the BNA act, when all I do is read the document and it outlines a clear definition of powers.

Health Care, Child Care, Cities (remember that?) Were there photo ops for any of those priorities when Paul Martin was implementing them? The thing sounded like a provincial platform. (It would be great for Dalton now that I think about it.)

Liberals are accusing Conservatives of acting like Liberals. Our line should not be “they are crazy”, but “they said they were different, until they proved we knew what we were doing all along.”

All Harper did was “empty Paul Martin’s war chest.” The same one he built through fiscal prudence and off-loading. Hooray for fiscal prudence Paul, but you should have given the money back, all of it, without question. Instead, the provinces smartened up and managed to make the population understand exactly how you got those surpluses.

Did Harper do this for the right reasons? I highly doubt it. But, on the two main separatist reasons for being in Ottawa, the insult of Quebec (or Quebec has no distinct status) and the federal government screwing the provinces (and therefore Quebec among them), Stephen Harper has indeed disarmed them.

On both major fronts, the Bloc reacted predictably. First they said that the Quebec nation would lead them closer to sovereignty. (Riiight.) Now they say the solving of the fiscal imbalance also leads them closer to sovereignty. They make so sense. Without their two main reasons to complain, they are weak, and it will be seen in the upcoming federal election, where Liberals will re-take the western parts of Quebec and the Tories will mop up in Eastern Quebec. I give about 25 seats to the Libs and at least 25 to the Tories depending on the federalist vote split. If the two parties stay out of each other’s way, expect only 25 seats or less for the Bloc, proof that federalism is working. I don’t care which party makes federalism work, as long as it does…

Back to Charest, let him be for the tax cuts. 700 million dollars is also what he promised to hire 1500 new doctors and 4000 nurses. He could have made the tax cut promise first, and then used yesterday’s money to hire the doctors. It took four years to clear enough manoeuvring room to gice some tax relief to Quebecers. I am happy he put the health care system first, regardless of the optics, and to those in our party who want a separatist government in Quebec City for the presumed negative impact it has on Stephen Harper, you should be ashamed of themselves. I am sure NO Quebecer, Stephane Dion included, wants a PQ government. All this talk makes federalists queasy. We need to win this election. For Quebec. And for Canada.

11 Commentaires:

Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat a dit...

I agree.

Rules based equalization that includes a ten-province standard (i.e. Alberta), and 50% of Alberta's oil revenues.

Elimination of double equalization in the social transfer for Alberta and Ontario with the restoration of per capita transfers immediately,

and elimination of double equalization in the health transfer for Alberta and Ontario with the restoration of per capita transfers over time.

Who in their right mind can argue against this?

Martin had made an absolute mess of equalization with his ad hoc one-off deals.

Harper surrendered on his traditional position that the federal government should just surrender tax room instead of enhanced transfers and equalization, but this is just a money flow issue. Most of the provinces prefer to let Ottawa tax, than tax themselves.

How Quebec uses its money is Quebec's business?
Equalization doesn't come with strings.

Let the small provinces whine who are on the verge of have status. They want more than equalization...they are asking for Alberta and Ontario to fund equalization payments to give them greater fiscal capacity than Ontario...i.e. super-equalization.

Since a commission Goodale set up recommended this formula, the federal Liberals should be taking credit for solving the "fiscal imbalance", not criticize it.

3/21/2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Charest is a Tory. None of us should cut him any slack and he should not be Liberal leader in Quebec and won't be for long, as far as I can tell.

3/21/2007 11:58 AM  
Blogger Braeden Caley a dit...

Do you really think that the same levels of transfers that were made when we had a forty-billion dollar deficit are sustainable now?

Harper talks about predictability of funding for the provinces, but at the same time his budget warns that we could come perilously close to deficit territory should there be only the slightest contractions in our economic growth forecasts.

Will a new fiscal imbalance need to be solved if the federal government needs to go into deficit to fund this so-called fiscal imbalance?

3/21/2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger Braeden Caley a dit...

And now that Quebec has been recognized as a "distinct society" and a "nation," and that the so-called "fiscal imbalance" has been "solved," Premier Charest will surely be able to grant Quebec's signature to the Constitution, right?

3/21/2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

well braeden for starters,

if the Liberals have found hundereds of billions of dollars to cut taxes and still find tens of billions in surpluses, maybe there is more money there than people thought...

Also,

I believe Quebec can sign the constitution whenever it wishes, im sure they would want the agreements entrenched in the text but, dont ask me, I do not speak for the PLQ

3/21/2007 12:57 PM  
Blogger KC a dit...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/21/2007 1:13 PM  
Blogger KC a dit...

Antonio - If you really are are a "decentralist" and your reading of the BNA Act grants jurisdiction over health, education, cities, etc. to the provinces; then to be consistent shouldn't FUNDING for these areas ALSO be done within the province by taxation? In which case the only fiscal imbalance is the provinces unwillingness to pay for its own services?

To me its intellectually dishonest to say "keep your hands off our jurisdiction, but at the same time not only SHOULD you transfer money to pay for our exercises in that jurisdiction but you are obliged to".

3/21/2007 1:16 PM  
Blogger PhillyC a dit...

kc, didn't you know Antonio likes to have his cake AND eat it too?

His idea of Canada revolves around Quebec. He masks this by saying his motives are to fight off seperatism. Well, there isn't a true seperatist threat anymore. Just a bunch of bravado on the parts of the PQ and BQ. They have taken seperation out of their platforms. There is no referendum on the horizon. They are looking to work within the Canadian framework now.

Antonio has be unmasked.

3/21/2007 5:31 PM  
Blogger canuckistanian a dit...

braeden:
"Do you really think that the same levels of transfers that were made when we had a forty-billion dollar deficit are sustainable now?"

good question....an answer would be nice too.

kc:
"To me its intellectually dishonest to say "keep your hands off our jurisdiction, but at the same time not only SHOULD you transfer money to pay for our exercises in that jurisdiction but you are obliged to"."

i don't know if it is "intellectually dishonest", it is certainly logically incongruous.

antonio:
"I am called a decentralist because of the way I read the BNA act, when all I do is read the document and it outlines a clear definition of powers."

interesting, cause i am called a centralist because i think the original BNA act, written by the fathers of confederation, should take precedence over the views of the judicial committee of the privy council, whose decisions made one of the most centralized federations in the world into one of the most decentralized federations in the world (bloody brits!).

3/21/2007 6:58 PM  
Blogger KC a dit...

Yes Canuckistan "logically incongruous" is a much better way of describing the sum of Antonio's views.

3/21/2007 7:07 PM  
Blogger angela a dit...

antonio, my advice is to keep posts shorter. trolls are scavengers, they dont need to be fed great quantities.

3/22/2007 7:39 AM  

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