federalism

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Three-Card McGuinty

You have to tip your hat to Dalton McGuinty. Another premier, on discovering that his province was about to qualify for payments under the federal equalization program, might have seized the occasion to demand that the program be enriched. But as the premier of the largest province in Canada, McGuinty no doubt feels an obligation to rise above such petty concerns. Surely statesmanship, then, explains his demand that the program from which Ontario may soon be drawing $1-billion and change should be radically curtailed — or in McGuinty’s words, to “revisit the perverse dimensions of the existing fiscal network that ties us to the rest of the country.”

Statesmanship, or utter confusion. Perhaps aware that his adversaries would blame Ontario’s impending descent into “have-not” status on his government’s economic policies, McGuinty tried to change the subject by attacking the feds, dusting off his favourite complaint from yesteryear, the so-called $20-billion gap – the amount by which federal tax revenues collected in Ontario exceed federal spending in Ontario. The result was utter intellectual chaos, as the premier shuffled numbers and definitions back and forth like a cardsharp at three-card monte, with casual disregard for logic, truth, or basic mathematics.

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