Prime Minister Stephen Harper has scheduled a good news trip to Halifax -- likely to re-announce funding for the military .
Harper was off to a rough start even before arriving in the port city after he apparently snubbed Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, who said he knew nothing about the visit less than 24 hours before it was due to occur.
"If it's good news for my province, I'd be very disappointed not to know what that news is,'' a bewildered MacDonald told reporters in Bridgewater, N.S., during a spending announcement at the local Michelin tire plant.
"If it's good news for Nova Scotia, I'm quite surprised that I would not be aware.''
Federal/Provincial relations are complex, demanding co-ordination on a wide range of issues. The fact that we have a major dispute over equalization shouldn't spill over to other areas, wherein Harper and company simply ignore the provincial government and effectively snub. You inform MacDonald of the looming announcement, you just do, period. As a matter of fact, if you are at all shrewd, you engage the Premier on this announcement, to demonstrate that there is still a relationship, despite the problems. If I were in charge, I would go so far as to extend an invitation to MacDonald to attend, if for nothing more than appearances.
Harper undercuts the whole purpose of the military announcement by the distraction of a Premier in total darkness. Are the strategists in the PMO so dense that they can't see the potential disaster in ignoring the province? The failure to notify, at the very least, just re-affirms the impression that the province is at war with the federal government. How is any of this positive to easing tensions and cooling the rhetoric?
In my mind, the issue of equalization is secondary to the insights revealed in how this government reacts to tensions. In snubbing MacDonald, the Conservatives demonstrate their complete lack of diplomatic instinct, political nuance and a dangerous flare for needless escalation and exasperation. What is wrong with these people?