Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Constitutional fundamentalism, cont.

How's this for a strict division of powers? The Constitution of Canada, when it comes to equalization payments, says the following:
Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation
Quebec is entitled to funding for comparable levels of public services to keep its taxes comparable with the rest of Canada. Quebec is not guaranteed free money so that it can have the most expansive welfare state in Canada at moderate levels of taxation.

It's nice to see that the rhetoric about "original intent" of the Constitution is as empty and ridiculous in Canada as it is in the United States.

Oh, and where did I find this passage? In the Report on the Fiscal Imbalance published by the Government of Quebec. They had, you can imagine, a different interpretation from mine.

It's worth pointing out that the PQ's desired solution to the fiscal imbalance is the elimination of all health transfers and handing billions of tax dollars to the Provinces in perpetuity. Exactly how long do you think Canadian health care would last, given that we've basically stopped enforcing the Health Act?


Anonymous said...

Original intent does not play a role in judicial interpretation of the Constitution of Canada.

A Montreal Paul said...

Well, actually, the PQ's preferred option is Quebec independence - won't that be wonderful? You won't have to worry about us mooching of of you to play for our bloated welfare state, right?

It would be good to bring some facts into this discussion for a change. By what measure doest Quebec have the "most expensive welfare state" in Canada? Quebec does not spend more on health or education than Ontario does. The differance is that Quebec's per capita income is lower than Ontario's. Thus, our welfare state is "more expensive" as a proportion of GDP than Ontario's, but by that measure, the province with the most expensive welfare state turns out to be Newfoundland. And the whole point of equalization is to allow poorer provinces to provide a comparable level of services. The "fiscal imbalance" may be a con, but it's one that the provinces and Stephen Harper have found to be profitable.

john said...

"Expansive", not "expensive". As in broad and encompassing.

Day care, tuitions, other institutions are all examples of how Quebec has a broader welfare state. And like I said in a previous post -- I think it's great. I'd love it nationally, I really would.

But Quebec has a number of institutions that simply don't exist in other provinces, some of them very expensive, making a mockery of the idea of "comparable" services.

If you're living on other people's money, don't you still have an obligation to live within your means?

Is it okay to lie to the public of all provinces -- including Quebec -- if it's politically profitable? That's kind of repugnant.