Ignatieff on Equalization

Ignatieff cautions Maritimes about transfer discontent Contender for federal

Liberal leadership says region must not underestimate equalization payment concerns raised by central Canada.

By Wayne Thibodeau
The Guardian
August 21

It’s hard for an academic to be successful in politics. They are just too darn bright for their own good.

Imagine coming into the Maritimes and saying:

“All Canadians have this uneasy sense that fiscal federalism no longer makes sense and it’s creating strains in the federation,” Ignatieff said, adding that he supports a 10- province standard but believes a cap for have provinces might be a balance that all provinces could accept. “Maritime Canada cannot underestimate the discontent in central Canada about this. That’s the wake-up call for me. As a national leader, I am sympathetic to the concerns of the Maritimes but I also have to listen very carefully to Ontario.”

He’s right – dead right – but comments like this won’t win him much support in the Maritimes.

Lord’ crusade for more Equalization is a crap shoot. Eventually the backlash is going to slap us in the face.

But you have to be nicer than that during an election, Mr. Ignatieff .

Ignatieff continues:

Ignatieff also discussed the issue of regional economic development, suggesting the problems facing Prince Edward Island and the rest of the Atlantic region are not that unique from other regions of the country, like northern Ontario. He said this region should not be treated as a “special problem zone” because, he added, it is not.

“The paradox — and it’s one of the things that I think is really stupid in Canadian politics — is there is a tendency to problemitize the Maritimes as if it had a whole set of problems: economic retardation, aging population, flight of kids, problems with infrastructure, problems with reinvestment,” said Ignatieff. “Anybody will tell you that northern Ontario has many similar challenges. Rural Manitoba, similar challenges.

Now I am sure that Donald Savoie is reaching for his heart pills after reading this. Atlantic Canada, once the economic cradle of Canada has been reduced by Ignatieff as the same as ‘rural Manitoba’.

All of Atlantic Canada in the same boat as ‘northern Ontario’.

He calls it ‘stupid’.


Now, not to be contrarian here but Northern Ontario just happens to be connected with Southern Ontario (last time I checked) – one of the strongest economies in the world. Even northern Quebec is connected to an economic powerhouse called Montreal.

If New Brunswick was a ‘have’ province with a strong and growing economy, we would still have problems in certain areas of the province but to reduce a whole province, yet alone a whole region of Canada, to the status of a small region in a rich province completely misunderstands the issue.

To put it another way – maybe to dumb it down for the Professor – Ontario has the economic might to take care of Northern Ontario itself if it so chooses (for example a new medical school in Sudbury – a real one).

New Brunswick has no such luck because the whole province is totally reliant on Federal Equalization, transfers and EI payments which in turn is subject to the vagaries of national politics (Lord’s Constitutional expertise notwithstanding).

So, if you read the subtext here it would seem the Iggy is proposing to take a hard line on Atlantic Canada.

In true Liberal fashion, he has learned to crap on Atl. Canada (learned it from fellow intellectual John Manley no doubt) and support cheques for auto sector in Ontario in the same breath.