Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dalton McGuinty: Liberal destroyer of Ontario

Further to my previous related post...

Kelly McParland wrote in "McGuinty demonstrates Ontario's loser mentality" (National Post, Jan.17, 2012):

"How mortifying it has become to be from Ontario.
Once we were Canada’s cocky engine of growth and defender of federalism, bestriding the country and lecturing lesser provinces on their inadequacies. Now we send our premier to a gathering of the provinces, where he bleats about our inability to compete, desperation for handouts and need for guidance from Ottawa.
Dalton McGuinty went to Victoria to join the other premiers in a discussion about health care and other shared interests, and quickly joined Quebec Premier Jean Charest in decrying the raw deal Ontario gets from Ottawa. Quebec, of course, is Canada’s unchallenged champion in moaning about the lack of appreciation it’s been getting from Canada since approximately 13 September 1759, but only recently has Ontario taken to backing it up, shaking its first and grousing in tandem: “Yeah, you tell ‘em Jean! We’re getting robbed.”
Here’s what Mr. Charest had to say on Monday, while Mr. McGuinty almost injured himself from nodding so hard: “There are two realities in Canada. There are the economies of oil, gas and potash – and others.”
Get that? There’s the rich guys and the poor guys, and Ontario now reflexively counts itself among the poor guys. More than that, it has adopted the hang-dog attitude of the habitually embittered, which holds that the rich provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. — only got that way because they happen to stumble on valuable energy resources within their borders. It’s not like they did anything to deserve their wealth; any idiot can get rich if they drive a stake into the ground and oil spurts up.
The have-not provinces are upset that Ottawa’s recently revealed funding plans for health care — a generous pledge to maintain increases at 6% a year until 2017, followed by a minimum annual increase of 3% — treats all provinces the same. The funds will be distributed per capita, which means Albertans will receive as much as Nova Scotians, as if all Canadians were equal. When it was rich, Ontario used to ignore the discrepancies in federal funding because it could afford to. Now that it has to share space with the rabble, it’s incensed at being short-changed.
Mr. McGuinty has made it clear he doesn’t feel the provinces are up to the task of efficiently and effectively operating the health care system without regular input from Ottawa, even though health care has long been a provincial mandate. “It’s unacceptable for the Prime Minister to say he’s effectively going to passively preside over the evolution of health care in Canada,” he told the other premiers.”We need the federal government to be an actual committed participant in this.” As in: “Wait a minute. We’re good at spending the money. But make smart decisions … are you crazy?”
If there was any doubt that the axis of influence in Canada has shifted to the West, Mr. McGuinty is here to dispel it. The western provinces are more comfortable with Ottawa’s funding formula, since they’re the fatcats now, and perhaps because they’ve always been more skeptical of Ottawa’s right to meddle in provincial affairs. Alberta has long chafed at being issued instructions by eastern politicians and their tame bureaucrats. From habit and necessity they’ve grown more confident in their ability to fend for themselves.
Ontario, unfortunately, has been going in the other direction. It now eagerly seeks subsidies and support payments from federal coffers, from taxpayer-funded regional development offices to debt-financed “stimulus” schemes. It fears that Ottawa’s plan to fund health on a per capita basis will translate into a long-term shift in the West’s favour, as people uproot from Ontario and head west in search of opportunity, taking their subventions and tax points with them.
Of course, if Ontario had better managed its economy, this might not have happened. But Mr. McGuinty happily spent and spent, borrowed and spent, then borrowed some more, during his first eight years as premier. Latest figures show the province missed falling into recession by the skin of its teeth, but is still struggling with high unemployment and low productivity, and an accumulated debt approaching $300 billion. Moaning about Alberta’s unfair advantage doesn’t cut it when the province has contributed so mightily to its own demise. Having brought the province to this unhappy position, Mr. McGuinty now shows he’s given up believing he’s capable of reversing it, and has joined the ranks of permanent supplicants. When the Montreal Canadiens’ Mike Cammalleri recently berated his team for thinking and acting like losers, they summarily shipped him off to Calgary. Too bad Ontario couldn’t go with him."

Jack M. Mintz also had a great summary on this federal/provincial health-transfer issue in "What is the premiers' beef?", (National Post, Jan.18, 2012):

"...The provinces were unhappy with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when he laid out the funding plan at a lunch a few weeks ago. Almost choking on their sandwiches, the Ministers of Finance came out swinging, arguing there should have been consultation before the federal announcement. But for what aim? More money? They already got that in spades, getting good support even though the federal government is once again challenged with deficits.
In the past, provinces were more than happy to take federal tax dollars that they could spend on programs that made their own voters happy. So the premiers this week continued to complain that they are not getting enough.
Some premiers, including Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty, who has his own financial headaches, are proposing an ill-defined “innovation fund” for health care. I’m not sure what innovation means in health care. The federal government already supports medical research and development through various programs so the notion is to help provinces introduce new management techniques. This is something they should already do to contain costs, rather than adding to the total with more federal dollars.
The most important principle being introduced by the federal funding formula is that the provinces, which cover 90% of health-care costs in Canada, should be accountable to their electorates for their constitutional responsibilities, especially health care. Unlike the Martin government, which tied funding to five specific waiting-time objectives, the Harper government is not attempting to micro-manage provincial decisions.
The Harper arrangement, providing a solid funding base and principles under the Canada Health Act, lets the provinces decide how best to spend the money that they receive. If the provinces botch their efforts, they can no longer blame the feds for a lack of funding, which is at historically high levels..."
Just think back several years, when Ontario's premier Liberal liar McGuinty was laughing with derision at the west's "we want in" mantra. Now McGuinty, Jim Bradley, Kim Craitor, and the rest of Ontario's unaccountable Liberal douchebags, 'want in', too; by whining about the unfairness of it all, by demanding strings, by spinning the blame on the feds, by jealously blaming the west - by looking everywhere else but at their own hypocritical, miserable Made-In-McGuinty-Ontario have-not-status selves.

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