Here are the three things you should not have missed:
CTV’s Question Period had an interview with new Ontario premier-designate Kathleen Wynne, who said that the critical mass of women leading provinces may change the dialogue at the Council of the Federation, and the way that youth look up to leadership. Wynne said that the issue of Ontario’s $11 billion deficit is extremely urgent, and she wants to stay on track. To that end, she will be taking current finance minister Dwight Duncan’s advice, and plans to work with her caucus colleagues and the opposition to put together a budget that will pass. Wynne said she also looks forward to a collegial and cooperative discussion with Stephen Harper about Ontario’s economy.
Kevin Newman spoke with Alberta premier Alison Redford, who said that like Wynne, she came into an existing government and had to very quickly deal with the business of government. With regards to her own province’s $6 billion shortfall in revenue, Redford said that they are looking at different financing models for infrastructure investments, but won’t borrow for operating costs. As part of that, they are looking at what is and is not working with provincial service delivery. Redford said that with 30 per cent of revenues coming from oil and gas, they are focusing on more diversification, and that there are tremendous opportunities to move oil east by reversing pipelines because getting product to tidewater changes revenues.
(By contrast, Thomas Mulcair told The West Block (third segment begins at 17 minutes) that oil should go east for Canadian energy security at the Canada select oil prices, but said nothing about tidewater or world prices).
After a primer on Canadian debt levels – the totals between the federal government and all of the provinces being $1.05 trillion or 87 per cent of the GDP – The West Block sat down with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty before his trip to Davos, Switzerland. Flaherty said that Canadian growth is about on track, close to two per cent of GDP. Flaherty said that skills training is an issue, and it presents opportunities for private sector, as most young people just need a chance to get connected with business community. On Kevin Page, Flaherty said that the office hasn’t yet been of net benefit to the government, and that the idea was that the PBO would be like Congressional Budget Officer, and report to MPs about budget projections. Flaherty said that Page has wandered off from that role, and would like to see a more defined mandate for his successor.