May 25, 2007

I know I am in BC for Quebec Political Detox...but

All I will say is this

Charest set up a fund for the debt.

He budgeted money to address the doctor shortage. Adding 700 million to the health care system wont fix it when the problem in Quebec is that we dont keep enough of the doctors we train.

He raised tuition from ridiculously low levels to help out the universities.

Quebecers have been paying high taxes because it chose to keep services instead of slashing programs a la Mike Harris and Gordon Campbell.

But that has nothing to do with the budget.

The PLQ wants to keep its election promise or face the wrath of the voter next time.

Ditto ADQ who said they would not support the budget because they wanted the money to go to the debt.

The PQ knows the only way to defeat Mario Dumont’s populist tide is to give him the chance to govern. They think he will be worse than Bob Rae in Ontario. With the 41 members he elected, two would be good bets to be ministers. Pauline Marois wants pandemonium.

I think Mario will chicken out. He cannot govern without the chance to elect people that know how to govern.

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6 Commentaires:

Blogger KC a dit...

You sure now to spin my friend. Yes Quebec kept its services and its taxes high. Thats all fine and good as long as you are willing to live with the consequences of economic stagnation. But those were your choices. Im sure Gordon Campbell wishes he had the option that Quebec now does when he came to power in 2001. Instead of all the pain associated with program cuts that he inflicted to restart that provinces economy he could have simply demanded the money from the rest of Canada under the guise of a mythical "fiscal imbalance". In other words he could have his cake and eat it to which is what Jean Charest's bleating has accomplished this year. Where is the lesson in discipline there? "We dont want to make the sacrafices necessary to have a healthy economy. We like our social programs. Someone else should make the sacrafices for us."

You have still never presented one compelling reasons why ordinary taxpayers in other provinces should now pay their hard earned money so that Quebec can have the 5th lowest taxes in the country other than 'because thats the way it was in 1995' which is really a non-argument.

THIS is why I think we should have conditional transfers or none at all.

5/25/2007 11:34 AM  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

Gordon Campbell was arguing there was a fiscal imbalance too Kyle, for the record.

Harper fixed the mistake Paul Martin had to make in 1995 and did not fix himself when he has BOATLOADS of surplus money.

Nobody but each province decides how they spend their own money. The equalization program is what it is. If you wanna advocate we remove, than be my guest...

5/25/2007 11:44 AM  
Blogger KC a dit...

The equalization program existed before Jim Flaherty's budget. There was no need to enrich it in the skewed way that Flaherty did (ie deliberately to send more money to Quebec). There is no objective standard that can be applied to say that equalization was being honoured in 1995 or 2006 or after the budget in 2007. It is only your personal preferences (ie whatever means more money for Quebec) that dictates when the proper "balance" between federal and provincial capacity was attained.

As for Gordon Campbell saying there was a fiscal imbalance: yes he did but Im certain if you ask him that to him "fiscal imbalance" certainly didnt mean the same thing that it does to you (which is after all the inherent problem with vague notions of "fiscal imbalance"). He hardly envisaged the fix as being massive increases in transfers to Quebec to be used for tax cuts. That is not fixing fiscal imbalance. That is trying to curry political favour in a electorally rich area of the country.

My point which I have been TRYING to make for months is that your fixation on 1994-1995 is completely arbitary. Fiscal federalism had not by any objective standard attained a state of perfection prior to that point. Your focus on that point with all respect appears to have no other basis other than you personally like that time because it was a high point from a Quebec perspective in the fiscal (although not constitutional) relationship between Quebec and Ottawa (ie it was the time when Quebec was getting the most money from Ottawa for the programs that it could not afford on its own). Your preference for the arrangement had at that time over that which existed prior to Flaherty's budget has nothing to do with whose right and wrong. It has to do with what is best for Quebec. You prefer a system of generous transfers over the vacating of tax room (the latter being a solution that would certainly be preferable to Mssrs. McGuinty, Campbell and Stelmach) because it is better for Quebec. You've presented no objective foundation for this belief, and you start from a ridiculously flawed premise that the arrangement pre-1995 was objectively right, and anything else is wrong.

Frankly I wish you would just come out and admit that all you want is a fiscal arrangement that results in the most money for Quebe rather than trying to cloak your arguments in objectivity.

Quebec was not owed the money it recieved in the 2007 budget. It was not Quebec getting Quebecs money back. It was Quebec getting more money from the rest of Canada, and while many in the ROC disagreed with that move on the part of the federal government it was grudgingly accepted in the hopes that it would be used to repair and reinstate all the underfunded programs that we had been hearing about in the debate over "fiscal imbalance". Instead it was used to make Quebec's taxes lower than those of others. If you start from the premies that that was 'Quebec's money' that it was owed; that it was entitled to as of right that might seem so bad. But you have given no reasoned arguments to start from such a premise and given the charitable underpinning of equalization the decision to spend it on tax cuts reeks of arrogance.

5/25/2007 12:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

im not gonna say cutting taxes was good optics kyle.

1995 is not an arbitrary point, it is when the federal government SLASHED transfers to the provinces, and threw the balance between Ottawa and the provinces into complete chaos.

As Canada's economy recovered, the federal government was flush with cash, but instead of returning to provinces what they had before, Ottawa tried to go around the constitution with programs like the Millenium scholarship. The result is provinces have to hike tuition and ottawa is helping students...how optically nice.

same goes for national childcare. The federal government gutted social spending from 1995-1997 and now they get to decide how they will return it? I am sorry Kyle but I read the constitution too and Canada doesnt work that way.

The equalization formula that Flaherty implemented was one that was recommended to Ralph Goodale by a committee set up by the Liberals under Paul Martin. They adopted a formula that was recommended to us as a means of fixing equalization to specifically remove political interference.

The fact that Quebec received the biggest windfall only proves Quebec was getting screwed the whole time.

All provinces are getting more money out of this deal. The formula fix affects the dollar amounts, but this is Ottawa returning to the provinces what it took way 12 years ago.

Quebec chose services instead of tax cuts to prevent complete disaster. We had to go in debt to ensure we got these services delivered while other provinces cut taxes. Now Quebec gets the money that was taken away from them in 1995, and they can damn well do whatever the hell they want with it.

5/25/2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger KC a dit...

The fact that transfers were slashed in 1995 does not make that point any less arbitrary. You are still assuming that the situation which existed immediately prior to that point was an objectively correct fiscal arrangement. You have presented no arguments why prior to the cuts the arrangement was correct, and I know of no constitutional arguments that could support such a thesis. Unless you can justify that premise the rest of your argument (ie that the cuts created a 'fiscal imbalance') falls on its face.

The argument that there was ever a fiscal imbalance further falls on its face when you are talking in the context of a province that is a net benefactor in Canada. Even in the darkest days of transfer cuts, Quebec was still recieving more money from Canada then it put in. Even in these dark days, were the federal government to completely cut off transfers and vacate all the tax room could be created by those cuts which Quebec could subsequently reenter Quebec would be WORSE off. Thus the assertion that Quebec ever got "screwed" is patently false. There was still a net fiscal benefit conferred on Quebec for being a part of Canada. Therefore unless you start from the premise that Quebec was entitled as of right to transfers taking that money away is not "screwing" Quebec. If person X (Quebec or any other net benefactor) gives person Y (Ottawa) $50 a year (the portion of taxes that is not spent on federal jurisdiction and is instead transferred back) and person Y subsequently gives $80 per year back to person X (transfer payments); person X is not "screwed" (by any definition of the word that I know) when person Y unilaterally decides to reduce that transfer to $70. On the other hand, if person Z (Alberta, Ontario) pays $50 per year and recieves $40 back in transfers from person Y; and person Y unilaterally reduces that amount to $30 then person Z might have a legitimate case that they are being screwed. So if anyone got "screwed" by the cuts in 1995 it was the have provinces.

As for direct spending on Millenium Scholarship and Daycare; if provinces don't like it they should go to court and enforce the constitution (if in fact the constitution says they cannot do it). But the fact that the federal government wishes to do this kind of direct spending does not mean that in the absence of jurisdictional competence to do so they are obliged to transfer the money they would have spent on those programs to the provinces. There is nothing in the constitution that would require them to do so, although they are certainly entitled to do so. But they are equally entitled to take that money and spend it on some other area of true federal jurisdiction or cut taxes and let provinces enter that tax room at their discretion. Thus one cannot claim to be "screwed" by the governments decision not to choose option #1.

As for your final paragraph I completely disagree with you. First, you are once again relying on the unproven premise that the pre-1995 arrangement was objectively correct or required by the constitution. Secondly if we return to our person X, person Y scenario. If person X again chooses, out of the goodness in his heart, to raise its transfers to $80 from $70 after person Y has claimed that they "need it" for food and medicine; person is perfectly within his right to be pissed when person Y takes the $10 and buys a new car instead, and person X would be perfectly within his right to take his $10 back.

5/25/2007 1:05 PM  
Blogger KC a dit...

I should reiterate that I am not against fiscal federalism per se. What I am opposed to is provinces insisting that they are entitled to transfers greater than their contributions as of right. I am opposed to using tinkering with fiscal federalism as a political tool to secure votes (a practice which the Liberals are as guilty of if not more so than the Conservatives). And I am opposed to the sheer arrogance of pulling at heart strings by pointing to crumbling social services, then using that money to secure a comparative advantage vis-a-vis other province; then insisting that its "my money" and demanding that everyone butt out. Equalization and fiscal federalism generally is not a "right" and it should not be spoken of as one. When transfers to have not provinces are not being used for the purpose for which they are created the payor's of those transfers have every right to ask questions.

5/25/2007 1:21 PM  

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