Monday, November 08, 2004

To Have and to Have Not

Much has been said and written in the last while about have provinces and have-not provinces and the federal equalization program. I'd like to simplify the situation and put it in the context of government philosophy and ideology.

In the first place, the equalization formula and process is laid out in such a way as to be nearly indecipherable to mere human beings. Enter a Liberal government to put its arm around our shoulders and tell us that, it's okay, we'll look after all the things that citizens couldn't possibly understand.

Let me tell you what I do understand. I understand that Alberta gets to keep the majority of its resource revenues, and that has made us a very wealthy "have" province. We share our wealth with the rest of Canada through the equalization program, and that is right and proper. Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia have very considerable resource revenue that they are not allowed to keep, and they are "have-not" provinces who get help from Alberta. Call me simple, but, if Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia were allowed to keep the majority of their resource revenue, wouldn't they likely become "have" provinces? Wouldn't they become the masters of their own economic future as Alberta has become? Wouldn't they have the same justifiable pride in their provinces' capability as do Albertans? Wouldn't they be able to negotiate from a stronger position when it comes to federal-provincial issues? Oops, I may have stumbled onto something.

It is not in a power-focused central government's best interests to let the regions develop any form of independence from the mother ship. How would that central government then be able to hold their "largesse" over the heads of voters at election time? The "if you don't vote for us, economic ruin will surely follow" election advertising would lose its appeal and, clearly, that cannot be allowed to happen. Danny Williams has figured this out and he is right in taking a two-faced central government to task over the issue. I have no doubt that Newfoundlanders & Labradoreans and Nova Scotians are hard-working, industrious people who would like nothing better than to be in control of their own futures.

Canada would be better off if these two provinces, and others, had the shackles of subservience removed from their shoulders. Alberta would not be shackled and neither should they. The Liberals need to stop blackmailing Canada's provinces with their own money. The Liberal philosophy and electoral ideology is one of keeping the masses beholden to them in order to keep their "loyalty" at the polls. Have you heard of universal daycare?

A Winston Churchill quote goes something like "Dictators ride to and fro on tigers, afraid to dismount lest the tigers eat them". Paul Martin had best hang on tight.

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