Prime Minister Paul Martin has signed over a paltry $5.75 Billion over to Ontario to “address” the fiscal imbalance between Ontario and Ottawa.
First, that’s $5.75 Billion over 5 years… just over $1 Billion a year back to Ontario.
Second, McGuinty puts the fiscal “gap” at $23 Billion.
If Ontario sends 23 Billion more dollars to Ottawa than it receives, it now can say that the gap stands at $21.85 Billion.
Not much of a difference. This hardly addresses the fiscal imbalance.
So, what does this deal amount to? Positive optics for the Prime Minister who has gone on a spending spree before he inevitably faces the electorate this year. McGuinty can hardly claim that he got a good deal. While Ontario and Alberta are the only “have” provinces under the current equalization formula, Ontario is where the Liberal swing votes are. Alberta can keep dreaming for rectification of the fiscal imbalance under a federal Liberal government.
While provincial debts mount, premiers face angry voters. However, the federal Liberals are lauded when they announce record surpluses.
I believe that most of this country’s problems are rooted in the fiscal imbalance. Consider Quebec’s demands for greater provincial autonomy and power over their own finances, take Newfoundland’s anger with Ottawa concerning offshore oil revenue, and look at the economic reconfiguration of Ontario’s healthcare and education services under Harris, Eves and now McGuinty.
Martin cannot simply buy Ontario voters with a fraction of their own money. The Conservative Party should run their non-Adscam campaign on addressing the fiscal imbalance; it is one of their greatest strengths.
Perhaps the Conservative Party slogan could be:
“It’s the fiscal imbalance, stupid”