I'm about to say (er, write) something that won't be very common on this blog: Dalton McGuinty is wrong, and Stephen Harper is right. And the Toronto Star needs to fire their headline editor. The original headline for this piece -- the one that ran on papers across the country -- was "PM to Cities: Drop dead". The Star apparently has Stalin's appreciation for historical accuracy -- no embarassing fact that can't be airbrushed out!
The basic issue is this: the Premiers have spent the last decade screaming like raped sheep every time they get even a whiff of "interference" from the Federal government, so Dalton McGuinty can't really expect any federal leader, regardless of party, to step in to this one.
More than that, and I'm sounding more and more repetitive on this point, the provinces have plenty of money, and Harper's tax cuts have made more room for the provinces to raise money if they want. If -- a-doy -- McGuinty hadn't promised never to raise taxes again until 2011, he'd be able to find the money he needs to do his job without asking for free money from the Feds.
So Harper's rolling in surpluses. So what? It's not his job to fund cities, it's the Premiers'. Harper doesn't spend his time begging the Provinces for money for the Canadian Military or RCMP. Neither, to my recollection, did Martin or Chretien.
It's really aggravating to watch even Premiers who I like -- and despite my partisan leanings, I like McGuinty -- playing in to the bad behaviour that the institutions of Canadian federalism make profitable. Need money? Ask the feds. High energy prices? Take a whack at Alberta.
Let me pose a question for the audience: Schools and universitites are, as Mr. McGuinty described cities, "centres of innovation and wealth creation" and as important to the economy as supporting cities. Should Mr. Harper therefore shovel money in to school boards? Before you say yes, remember that Federal money can always come with conditions -- what if Mr. Harper decides that he wants to fund separate religious school boards, as the recently-defeated Mr. Tory wanted to?
One other thing -- why, exactly, is Hazel McCallion getting a pass from the press for her tax hike, while the editorial boards of the Sun and Post nearly burned Miller in effigy for his?