12 March 2007

Williams isolated on Equalization

Alberta's out of the Equalization war.

That didn't take long.

Like Kramer in "The Contest".
[Alberta finance minister Lyle Oberg] says it doesn't make sense to oppose the new equalization formula when Alberta, as a wealthy province, neither gains nor loses from a payout system designed for poorer jurisdictions.

"It doesn't matter to us," Mr. Oberg said, adding later: "We also recognize that there's certainly a high chance that this is going to come in whether we say anything or not."
Well, d'uh, on all counts, he said, in recognition of Vernacular Monday.

There was never any reason for Alberta to wade into the discussion.

So now the Great Jihad for Handouts is down to Saskatchewan and Danny Williams.


Something to watch for in the Globe story: a comment from Ken Boessenkool.
"It's not just a new tone, it's frankly a more sensible tone," Mr. Boessenkool said of the Alberta finance minister's position, contrasting it with that of Mr. Klein, who he said liked to "rattle the populist cage."

Mr. Boessenkool, a Conservative who has written for years on equalization, said the program is not a transfer of money to provinces such as Quebec from Alberta because it's paid for from revenue that Ottawa collects from all Canadians.
Boessenkool has considerable influence in Ottawa or, at the very least, knows which way the wind is blowing on a given file.



There was a clue to Alberta's position in February, with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach expressing a preference for more cash flowing to provinces through transfers other than Equalization.

Just last week, on the heels of federal finance minister Jim Flaherty's visit to St. John's, Bond gave a prediction on what the feds might do, taking a cue from Ken Boessenkool's recent paper on Equalization.