Monday, March 24, 2008

Maybe it's not just Flaherty, maybe it's the entire Conservative Government...

So, Adam Radwanski points out that it might not be JUST Jim Flaherty's naked ambition to take over the provincial Tories that is behind his stubborn insistence on poking the sleeping bear that is Ontario. It may just be federal Tory policy to bite at the hand that feeds.

Well gentlemen, by all means continue to point out that there are provinces in Canada where taxes are lower and spending is higher. Sooner or later, Ontarians are bound to realize that this is largely because they are being played for suckers. When things are quiet on the federal-provincial front between Ottawa and Queen's Park, we Ontarians are more than happy to swallow our underrepresentation in Parliament and continue to fund provincial spending from coast to coast (even when people in other provinces get subsidized electricity rates, or ultra low tuition rates on our dime). However, there is a point when even Ontarians (good federalists that we are notwithstanding) will get fed up.

The Tories have decided that it's not enough that Ontario is the Confederation's patsy, they've decided to actively rub our noses in it. They call our provincial leaders "small men" for suggesting we deserve representation by population. They say that they wouldn't invest in our province because our taxes are too high (never mind that we could lower taxes in Ontario significantly if we weren't sending $20 billion a year to Ottawa that is then redistributed to the rest of the country). And they broadcast to the world that we're on our way to becoming a "have not province" (to which, ironically, many Ontarians say "it's about time" - having become tired of being the only province in the nation to have never received equalization payments - we'd LOVE to know how it feels to have someone else pay the bills for a while).

So by all means, praise Quebec and B.C. for lowering taxes (partially with our money). Mock our dually elected leaders, and point out every day how the problems in the U.S. are dragging our economy down, and all you want to do is complain that we're not lowering taxes fast enough as a response. The people of Ontario aren't stupid. They know that 40% of the money the feds transfer to the provinces comes from Ontario, and that we only get 25% of those transfers back. They know that we send $20 billion a year to Ottawa that then disappears into the coffers of our neighbours (who, by and large, use it to pay for wonderful services we could never dream of funding in Ontario with what we have left over). They know that we have amongst the lowest per capita spending of any province in the nation, yet are still expected to subsidize our high spending neighbours. What's more, they know all of this and are quite happy for it to continue, so long as you don't piss them off. We're generally Canadians first and Ontarians second, and we're more than happy to do more than our bit.

But you'd best stop poking us.

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janfromthebruce said...

Good post lord Kitchener. I wonder if Ontarians are responsible for deep recession unfolding in the US, and ready to flow across the Globe.
We all remember the Harris Days - we called them the dark days. I don't think that our ex-finance minister got that loud enough when the door slammed him on his behind on the way out.

Catelli said...

The anger it is a-brewin.

I just posted out of anger and spite on this as well. By all means, keep poking us. I'm spoiling for a fight.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well Jan, I wouldn't blame the current economic crisis on Ontario (it's a truly made in America crisis coming out of the sub-prime mortgage debacle and the effect that home foreclosures have had on housing prices, which then drastically reduced consumer spending) but it's entirely true that Ontario's manufacturing sector is hit hardest by the troubles in the U.S., and that the $6 billion deficit left to the Ontario people by Mike Harris put us in a hole we had to dig ourselves out of. Also, federal equalization means Ontario is funding OTHER PROVINCES SPENDING to the tune of $20 billion a year, and as Don Drummond (Chief Economist of TD Bank, and hardly a raging lefty!) recently said, the federal Tories "seem to be bent on making Ontario's situation worse at the moment".

So we have a U.S. downturn that hits Ontario hardest of all the provinces, an equalization program that takes money away from Ontario and redistributes it to the rest of the country, and a federal government bent on making the whole situation worse for us.

It's a perfect storm of "screw Ontario".