Let the games begin

A Times & Transcript story this morning quotes Premier Lord as being indignant with Ontario Premier McGuinty who’s ideas on Equalization would put the squeeze on provinces like New Brunswick:

Premier Bernard Lord is pushing back against a campaign by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to minimize the role the federal equalization program will play in fixing the country’s fiscal imbalance.

In media interviews and in an op-ed published recently, McGuinty has been pressing his preference for a solution that is based on a federal transfer to the provinces based on share of population. Such a solution would favour his province.

But Lord said it is “no solution” and his persistent campaign is “unhelpful.”

I am tracking this story closely because of its importance. In the short term, the Federal Conservatives will do nothing on this file except possibly to enhance the Equalization program to garner more support in Quebec. However, Ontario is where the most votes are. If Ontario were to fully turn on the Conservatives, it would be very difficult to ever form that coveted majority.

What I’m saying is this. Would you bet on Lord or McGuinty over the long term? 100 seats or a dozen or so?

Don’t be naive.

New Brunswick’s ‘solution’ is going to have to be rooted in economic development. In, over time, reducing – not increasing – it’s dependency on Ontario tax dollars.

If Bernard Lord spent half the time fighting for real economic development that he does fighting for more Equalization, NewBrunswick just might get ahead.

Would somebody please tell me what the definition of a ‘Tory’ is these days? Lord famously said he was ‘fiscally conservative’ and ‘socially progressive’ when he was elected in 1999. But is demanding ever more Equalization ‘fiscally conservative’? Is increasing reliance on Federal transfers ‘fiscally conservative’? Do fiscally conservative policies lead to a 26% increase in Employment Insurance payouts?

I just get confused with all the terms but it seems to me that the NDP has carved out the niche as the dependency party. Maybe Lord should run to replace Layton – hey, don’t laugh – Rae is running to replace Martin.