Setting your priorities

Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald visited Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday and asked him for $400 million for an Atlantic Gateway to Asia from Halifax and the Strait of Canso.

Last week in Vancouver, Mr. Harper announced $321 million for ports and highways in British Columbia to take advantage of surging trade from China to North America.

Halifax and the Strait of Canso are the closest North American ports for ships coming from Asia through the Suez Canal — in particular container ships that are too large for the Panama Canal. The province is pushing for Ottawa to invest in Nova Scotia port facilities and highways as it has done in B.C.

Now, here is the question for the Premier. Two weeks ago he launched a PR campaign to push for more Equalization. B.C. did not. Does the Premier of Nova Scotia want hundreds of millions more in Equalization or hundreds of millions for ports and highways? What if he had to choose?

I much prefer asking the Feds to support growth-oriented economic development infastructure than more Equalization. But I think the Feds – particularly Stephen Harper – will be unlike to dole out the big bucks for increased Equalization and for the port facilities.