Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Mr. Speaker, the long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over. "

The above will be remembered in the same vein as "Mission Accomplished".

Vancouver Sun:

"Harper defends budget payments to Quebec"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to the B.C. airwaves Wednesday to defend allegations that his government is using billions in tax dollars to buy Quebec votes.

The National Post:

"Don't be 'jealous' of Quebec"

PM: Harper defends 34% hike in province's share

The National Post:

"Have-not premier buys must-have votes"

Don Martin, National Post

The galling spectacle of Mr. Charest stripping $700-million for tax reduction from his $2.2- billion haul just 24 hours after receiving word of the federal handout may well bring back Quebec-bashing as a Canadian heritage sport.

The Toronto Star:

"Harper's generosity to Quebec backfires"

OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to mend strains in the federation appeared on the verge of backfiring after the Quebec government earmarked $700 million in new "equalization" money from Ottawa to cut Quebecers' income taxes.

The Toronto Star:

"Quebec tax break could blow up in Harper's face"

What seemed an obvious win-win for federal Conservatives and Quebec Liberals is now a potential lose-lose for Stephen Harper and Jean Charest.

Regina Leader-Post:

"Spending your money in Ottawa"

Insults fly Calvert's way as budget debate turns nasty

A Tory MP called Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert a liar Wednesday as the Harper government defended its budget against howls of outrage in some provinces.

Herald Nova Scotia:

"Federal Conservatives shaft province, once again"

THE DEVIL-or-the-deep-blue-sea equalization formula options presented to Nova Scotia in Monday’s federal budget are the most obvious way in which this province is being shafted by the federal Conservatives,

The Telegram NFLD:

"Chants of 'goose egg' rain down on Harper"

Calgary Herald:

"Harper denies pandering to Quebec"

Only a "strategic genius" could manage to alienate a good portion of the population, in a budget oozing with cash. Well done sir, peace in our times, the federation never stronger.


Miles Lunn said...

Making the stupid promise of trying to fix the fiscal imbalance is what is causing this mess as all premiers had high expectations. If he like the Liberals said there is no such thing as the fiscal imbalance and didn't set high expectations, the provinces would likely be pleased when they did get something. Remember how Martin managed not just one, but four separate files (Kelowna Accord, cities, childcare, and health care) to get all provinces on side. That was because he didn't make stupid promises he knew he couldn't keep and he worked cooperatively with them rather than helping those who he thought had the greatest number of votes to be gained. Even Alberta where his party was toast, he still included there.

ottlib said...

The cynic in me says that this budget probably accomplished some of what it was supposed to do.

Despite people's protestations to the contrary I always find it amazing how a little extra cash from the government will actually make them support that government.

However, the almost unrelenting negative reaction to it by the punditocracy also makes me believe that any benefit the Conservatives may receive from the budget will be short-lived. Although, it should be noted that it is only the print media that has done so. As far as I can see the television media has been more positive and has largely moved on.

So my guess is we will find ourselves back where we were before the budget. Neither party having an overwhelming advantage and both main parties having roughly equal chances of winning th next election.

As well, I think this budget provides an opportunity to the Liberals. Alot of right-of-centre Canadians were sticking with the Conservatives because they are supposed to be, well, fiscally conservative. They have strayed from that big time. This might be an opportunity for the Liberals to come out with a more balanced and restrained fiscal policy proposal and perhaps entice some of these fiscal conservatives into the Liberal fold.

Stephen Harper's base is around 25% but he is polling around 36%. There is 11% that could move and in all likelyhood a sizable chunk of that 11% could be enticed by a more fiscally responsible economic proposal from the Liberals. Drive home to these folks who it was that beat the deficit in the first place.

Steve V said...

"So my guess is we will find ourselves back where we were before the budget."

I agree, which constitutes a failure for the Conservatives. A 9 billion dollar surplus, goodies sprinkled throughout, and it's a net nothing? This budget was to be the centerpiece that brought them within reach of majority. The problem now, for every positive talking point, there is an equally effective negative- quite surprising given the favorable conditions.


The Liberals didn't recognize fiscal imbalance, but they knew that they had to atone for cutbacks in the deficit years, which they largely achieved.

Miles Lunn said...

The Liberals did re-introduce a lot of the cutback programs as they should have, but this was simply because we now have the money to do so whereas we didn't in the 90s.

Ottlib - It is tough to say what the polls are like, but I agree the impact won't be that dramatic. The only place where it might be dramatic is Newfoundland & Labrador since I am sure Danny Williams will make sure it stays in the paper, although he would probably be better to wait until the final two weeks of the election before hitting the Tories hard in the media since if he says it over and over again people just tune out, so doing it then would probably have more impact.

Scotian said...

Miles Lunn:

Williams has to do some of that now to have credibility doing it in the last two weeks of an election. This establishes it matters that much to him, otherwise he would be open to the question "Well if this was so serious why didn't you make a stink about it at the time?" which would undercut him. At least that is one viable political strategic reason for him to do so nowadays aside from his just being really pissed right now and is letting everyone know it by venting it publicly.

Miles Lunn said...

I agree Danny Williams should do it now, but only for about a week and then come back again in the final two weeks of the election. If the government doesn't fall for several months and Danny Williams spends every day bashing the cons, people will tune out. But if he does it strategically, it could potentially lead to the Conservatives winning zero seats in Newfoundland & Labrador, which has only happened 3 times since joining confederation (1963, 1965, and 1993).