03 May 2006

Harper's real view of the 2005 offshore deals

From the federal budget document Restoring fiscal balance in Canada: focusing on priorities :
Concerns Over Funding Arrangements
Targeted to Address Specific Regional Needs

The confidence of Canadians in the overall fairness of federal programs has been undermined in recent years as the result of federal actions that were seen to be departing from the principle of comparable treatment of all Canadians and their provincial and territorial governments. In particular:

* The February 2005 agreements to provide Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador additional fiscal Equalization offset payments sought to address the severe fiscal challenges faced by those two provinces as a result of their high public debt, but were widely criticized as undermining the principles on which the Equalization program is based. ... [p.43]
The current federal administration makes it plain that the 2005 offshore deals were outside the normal pattern of federal transfers to provinces. There is no indication of how the federal government will address the anomaly caused by the deals, but there should be no mistake that it is on their radar screen.

Loyola Sullivan likes to assure us all that the provincial treasury will be protected by the proposed Harper changes to Equalization. Those changes have to happen first and we have to see what they will look like before anyone can make a judgment about whether the 2005 deal was worth $2.0 billion or whether it will be worth more.

The differences between Danny Williams' views and those of Loyola Sullivan were assessed in February 2006 by the Bond Papers.

Danny and Loyola are not on the same page.