McGuinty’s under-discussed legacy

I didn’t follow the Ontario election particularly close but I did review the party platforms, read articles and listened to TVO podcasts on it and I never once heard any of the Liberals trumpeting one of their signature accomplishments. Under Daulton McGuinty the Liberals structurally increased the amount of federal transfer funding that goes to Ontario. You must remember his ‘fairness’ campaign and his ‘fair deal for Ontario’ efforts. There were websites, advertisements, speeches – and it worked. The transfer payment formula for social and education transfers was modified in favour of Ontario’s position and it downsized the amount of transfers received by the provinces with stagnant or declining populations.

Beyond the structural change to the funding relationship, McGuinty got a new southern Ontario ACOA, huge federal infusions to the auto manufacturing industry and a pile of federal cash for other pet projects. Ontario also started to receive Equalization during the McGuinty years due to formulaic changes.

I guess I understand why he wouldn’t spend too much time trumpeting this fact. The ability to extract money from the Feds has been a political asset in Quebec – and in Atlantic Canada but not really in Ontario. The fairness umbrella was the right cover for it.

I have said many times that Canada needs a strong Ontario – with a growing economy and population. Alberta oil is no enough. Ideally this strength will come from economic growth and not prying more transfers out of the feds (and ultimately out of places like NB which lost about $60 million a year from the changes to the changes in methodology).