I t was inevitable I suppose: last week I read that Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is signaling a confrontation with the federal government over equalization. New Alberta finance minister, Ted Morton, said equalization has outlived its original purpose of helping all provinces provide roughly the same level of services to citizens.
Stelmach said to reporters in Calgary:
“Especially after the discussion at Copenhagen, where much of the criticism was placed on this province, and yet our contribution—this last economic downturn, the worst year since the 1930s—was well over $21 billion and that cannot continue and we have to have that discussion in Canada.”
Readers may remember that, in December, Ontario and Quebec sent delegations to Copenhagen for the UN Climate Conference, where they blamed oil sands development for Canada’s emissions problem, and announced they weren’t going to share the burden with Alberta.
Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen said:
“I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that with the tar sand oils that are being developed in Alberta and Saskatchewan that—of discussions that I’ve seen and been a part of—they want to continue to develop those.
“Obviously if they are developed there might have to be larger greenhouse gas emissions [reductions] elsewhere in the country in order to meet our overall targets. And we want fairness.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty and his environment minister want fairness. It’s inevitable therefore that Alberta’s Ed Stelmach would question haw fair it is that Quebec and Ontario receive annual federal welfare payments totaling billions of dollars, which are financed in large part by revenues generated by the dreaded “tar sands” as they refer to Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s oil sands.
Premiers Charest and McGuinty are masters of double-talk. Is there is no hypocrisy so foul in which they wouldn’t wallow? Basic fairness would suggest that Ontario and Quebec finance their own provincial programs without handouts financed by Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Or does fairness only flow one way?
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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