New Brunswick’s Gordian Knot

New Brunswick needs the extra $105 million it will receive this year in equalization payments to move closer to its goal of self-sufficiency, the province’s finance minister says.

Finance Minister Victor Boudreau insisted Tuesday the initial stage of the 20-year self-sufficiency strategy actually depends on the premise that the province needs more than the $1.69 billion in equalization payments the province will collect next year, not less.

“This is a little more but it’s still not what we need or what we’ve been looking for and we’re going to continue with our self-sufficiency discussions with the new federal government,” said Boudreau.

Boudreau said the province needs more now in order to need less in the future, and he said the province is still negotiating for more federal money to help set itself on course for financial independence from equalization payments.

This is actually sound logic. Invest now in the kinds of economic development efforts that will lead to a large scale increase in own-source revenue generation and ultimately a decline in the need for Equalization.

However, tying those two is tricky and the opposition is already positioning it as a sham.