Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ontario's Triple D Budget

Yesterday's Ontario budget deserves a "Triple D Rating" as in "Dwight Duncan Disaster."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the following says it all:


Crybaby federalism
Paul Wells | March 25, 2008 | 12:46:46 | Permalink
paul.wells@macleans.rogers.com

"Our appeal followed the time-honoured advice for raising money by direct mail -- make people angry and afraid, and set up an opponent for them to give against."
— Tom Flanagan, Harper's Team

Ontario led the country in job growth last month, nearly all of it in full-time work, much of it through a construction boom that produced job growth outstripping the loss of industrial jobs by 50%. Given the troubles of Ontario's main export market it is a stellar performance.

But Stephen Harper needs somebody to pick on, and Stéphane Dion refuses to show up for the fight. So Dalton McGuinty's Ontario government is the latest designated target, and we are all being asked to sit and smile through yet another of the Prime Minister's asinine tantrums.

Today is budget day at Queen's Park. Pierre Poilièvre, the reliably pliable eastern Ontario Tory MP, has been sent to Queen's Park to critique the budget on behalf of the federal Conservative party. (UPDATE: And the Conservative party's website is now doing a limbo dance under its own previously rock-bottom standards.) This merely extends a show that has been going on for a while now. For weeks the Prime Minister's yappy little budget terrier, Jim Flaherty, has been making apocalyptic pronouncements about the Ontario economy and the McGuinty government's stewardship. Ontario is "the last place" to start a business, and it's headed for have-not status, and it was the "strongest economic province in the federation" when his party delivered its last budget at a car-parts plant somewhere.

Now the truth, if anyone wants some, is that unemployment in Ontario is down nine-tenths of a percentage point from the days when Flaherty and his friends were running up a hidden $5.6 billion deficit. But then, nobody should depend too heavily on Jim Flaherty to pick a winner: he has the unique distinction of being the only man in Canadian history who managed to lose to both Ernie Eves and John Tory.

As for Ontario's chances of becoming an equalization-receiving province, here's Don Drummond of TD Bank saying the biggest culprit if that ever happens will be the Harper-Flaherty government. "They seem to be bent on making Ontario's situation worse at the moment," Drummond says.

Of course they are. For then Harper will have created a bogeyman Ontarians can be angry and afraid of, so he can do some fundraising against them. It's what he does.

The Senate, the CBC, assorted arms-length commissioners and regulators having exhausted their amusements for our impatient leader, he has now turned his distracted, essentially random fury on the voters of Ontario. This is because they voted wrong.

They had their instructions. Nearly two years ago Harper went to a John Tory fundraiser and called Tory "the next premier of Ontario." But just because Tory can beat Jim Flaherty doesn't mean he can beat a pro, and Ontarians stubbornly decided to elect somebody else.

Surely by now Ontarians should know that the big guy doesn't like it when his orders are ignored. And his contempt for Ontarians' electoral decisions, when the voters of that province have the gall not to vote Harper's way, is a matter of long record: witness his childish rant in the aftermath of Stockwell Day's 2000 election defeat. (And understand this: if anyone ever manages to beat Stephen Harper fair and square in a general election, we will see a display of gracelessness in defeat without precedent in the history of Confederation. This is simply guaranteed. It is what he does.)

There are two things going on here. One is the baselessness of Flaherty/Poilièvre/Harper's attack on Ontario's budgeting. Oil is at historic highs, the dollar is up a quarter in the last years, the U.S. real-estate industry is essentially imploding, five central banks pumped hundreds of billions of liquidity into the market in a co-ordinated push -- and the problem is Dwight Duncan's business-tax rates? Come on.

The other is the impudence of Harper's control-freakery. We know he likes to run everything, but here's the deal: if somebody signs up to be a Conservative staffer, you can tell them what to do, OK? You don't get to run the Senate. You don't get to push bureaucrats around for kicks. You don't get to muzzle public servants, tell reporters how to cover you, pick the next US president or write Ontario budgets. There's a Canadian constitution that says so, and just because you boycotted the 25th-anniversary celebrations of the Charter of Rights doesn't mean the separation of powers, which isn't even in the Charter, goes away by fiat.

Stephen Harper is such a clever tactician that his little games can be so fascinating we overlook their significance. The significance of this one is, well, significant: he's badmouthing his own country's industrial heartland and running roughshod over the prerogatives of a legitimately-elected government for the sake of cheap political points and to prop up his serial loser of a finance minister. It's not funny.

....conservatives haven't got a very good record when it comes to economics - Reagan, Mulroney, Thatcher, George Bush Sr. and Jr. and the conservatives haven't balanced a budget in Canada since 1912 - and Harper's riding on the tray full of goodies left to him.

Anonymous said...

If anybody is a bully it is Paul Wells, a bully against conservatism who doesn't have to countenance any flack. Wells, whose boss runs a hugh and profitable business built on the back of a monopoly. But I digress here.. to say that Ontario has gone from the apple in the eye of Canada to become a stinking cesspool of liberalism and socialism whereby the monopolies enjoyed by Toronto prop up a fake and flabby middle class and elite that lost all ability to effectively compete globally. Mr. Wells, not only do you keep the hope alive that Ontario will become a have-not province but you help to prop up fat, spoiled and bratty people that don't even have the inclination to ever practice what they preach. (real conservative)

Anonymous said...

Oh I guess Pierre Trudeau, Bob Rae, David Peterson did really well with budgets, as well. The only reason we had a $6 billion deficit left by Ernie Eves was because Dalton McGuinty told us and we know he never lies.

Anonymous said...

Your support for the Liberal Party of Canada is rather surprising. Are you a Liberal Party member, and were you ever a member of the Conservative Party which you have now turned your back on?
I believe journalists, and bloggers such as yourself, should come clean as to who you are supporting.

Anonymous said...

Funny that once in a while you come out of your closet with your angry tirade against PM Stephen Harper and what he represents (the WEST), that just shows everytime the arrogance of Ontarians like you who think that Ontario and in particular Toronto is the "heartland" of Canada, that Ontario is Canada, and Canada is Ontario. Well, as a WESTERNER transplanted here in Ontario, these tantrum of yours come to me as rather uninspiring and expected.

Admit it, you religiously attack Tom Flanagan and PM Stephen Harper and anyone in the current government team because they do not represent your form of RED TORYism, as if your political leaning is the true form of conservatism. Or perhaps , you should admit that not only your judgement is heavily cluded by provincialism, but rather you are in truth another LIBERAL in sheep's clothing acting as a 5th column to destroy the Conservative ideals from within.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my - how the truth hurts. Wells is a "non-partisan" and sure has slapped Dion, etc. more than often.

There isn't one fact in Wells writing here that isn't true.

Like it or lump. Please don't cry that Liberal bias crap - Harper began his tenure as PM stating the Liberal bias so suckers will believe him.

One newspaper in Canada is Liberal leaning (the Star) - not much of a liberal bias in Canada.

Lynne

NB taxpayer said...

Money for everything but a carrot!

Miles Lunn said...

I don't think the budget was bad at all. Yes it would be nice to have more tax cuts, but I don't support tax cuts that result in deficits. Had McGuinty not let spending grow as much as he has in past budgets, there would be room for a balanced budget. So my only disappointment was that there weren't more spending cuts, although considering that 75% goes to health care and education, there really isn't a lot of room to make deep spending cuts. Even a 5% reduction in spending would cause a lot of anger from the general public. I'd rather politicians keep spending even or at the very least under no circumstance exceed inflation + population growth.