A littlebirdie told me that George Smitherman, Ontario’s infrastructure minister, just dismissed federal Liberal claims that infrastructure dollars are disproportionately going to Tory ridings in Ontario. He told reporters, “you can slice and dice the numbers any way you want” and he went on to emphasize that the programs are balanced.
“The [federal Liberals] draw conclusions based on the analysis that they’ve done,” deputy premier George Smitherman countered Thursday outside Queen’s Park.
But, he continued, they only looked at the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (Rinc) program. While that would indicate that Conservative ridings received more cash than Liberal holdings, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Rinc program was open to not-for-profits and municipalities, he explained.
“So the fact that there are 450 municipalities, many of them small, meant that there were more requests in the mix for smaller communities.
“I think that’s why you see it’s a little more distributed towards rural Ontario and by coincidence, that happens to be where Conservatives represent the ridings.”
Toronto scored big when other initiatives were considered, Smitherman argued.
“The knowledge infrastructure program, which is for post-secondary education, you’ll see that Toronto actually comes out with a higher degree of investment than its proportion of population…I’m pretty confident that there’s going to be a very equitable regional distribution once we’ve completed the allocation of all those dollars.”
It is now just before 11am on Wednesday. Since I launched RallyforCanada.ca at 10am on Monday morning, the rallies have attracted a lot of attention.
After 48 hours, here are some stats:
127,149 hits on the website
20,400 people signed up with their email addresses (and province)
358 followers on twitter
I’ve done a lot of media on the rallies:
CBC: Don Newman’s Politics
CBC: The National
Metro News (Ottawa)
Canadian Press (CP)
CHQR (2 hits)
On my Blackberry, I have 1121 unread emails.
I’ve received calls of support from across the country and a small trickle of hate mail.
Perhaps the most bizarre call I got was from a group calling themselves “les jeunes patriotes du Quebec”. They described themselves as a group of separatists that are against the Bloc joining the coalition and selling out to Stephane Dion. They wanted to know if they could rally with us.
“You want to rally? ‘for Canada’?” I asked.
“Uh, yes” they said.
How disgusting, I thought. This was hardly a group coming on side to support strengthening our country with rallies. I tried to tease as much information out of them as I could by sounding as if I was perhaps considering their ludicrous idea. I invited them to send me an email with their info and request so I could expose it here on the blog. They never did. Too bad.
I think that what bothers Canadians most about this crazy week in politics is the proposed coalition government’s association with the Bloc. If the rogue-faction from the separatists want to rally, they can have their own. As for the rest of the separatists, they can rally with the “Progressive Coalition” which is supporting the proposed NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition government.
Richard Madan of CityNews hands the green screen over to Dion and the Liberal leader forecasts the future. Most meteorologists have trouble predicting accurately past 7 days so Dion may be onto a new career if the politician job doesn’t work out.