The Harper Government accused Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty yesterday of being "the small man of Confederation" after he appealed to his federal colleagues for help fighting proposed legislation that would increase the number of seats in the House of Commons.
Mr. McGuinty spoke privately yesterday to federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion as part of a bid to build grassroots support for his campaign for what he sees as a fairer deal from Ottawa on legislation that he says shortchanges the province. He has also asked Ontario MPs of all political stripes to spread the word that the legislation is unfair.
"He seems to prefer to become the small man of Confederation, focusing only on taking partisan shots while not concerned about the strength of Canada as a whole," Mr. Van Loan told The Canadian Press.
The use of the phrase “small man” is relevant, because it accurately describes the government reaction. You don’t start dishing out personal attacks, on a question of legitimate disagreement. Last time I checked, McGuinty represents Ontario, why should he react any differently, then every other Premier, when his province is at issue?
Van Loan’s comments demonstrate a complete lack of understanding, because there is no way he wins this fight. Good luck trying to curry favor by attacking the Premier, who is defending the interests of his province. The people of Ontario will not side with the feds, when the perception of unfairness is created. The simple math, Ontario is being treated differently than the other provinces who are also receiving seats. The federal government does have a case, in terms of the Canadian compromise and the fact the legislation lessens the present disparity. Why not make the argument, on substance, instead of turning the whole affair into a public pissing match? In other words, what are you thinking Van Loan, are you purposely giving McGuinty a club to pound you with?
I’m starting to think that the government’s biggest drawback, the main factor that inhibits expansion, is their approach to a conflict. Every challenge is met with a macho response, and it usually is reduced to the personal. In some warped sense, the rationale seems to be that you rise to the challenge and belittle your “opponent”. Trouble with that logic, particularly in this instance, you attack the man who is defending his constituents, which just happens to represent electoral gold, or coal as the case may be.
Ontario Liberal Caucus Opposes Divisive Electoral Reform
November 21, 2007
OTTAWA – Ontario Liberal Caucus is united in its opposition to a Conservative electoral reform bill that fails to adequately address the population growth of Canada’s largest province, Ontario Caucus Chair John Maloney said today.
“We will oppose any legislation that forces one region of Canada to fight against the other regions to get their fair share of representation in the House of Commons,” said Mr. Maloney, building on last week’s criticism of the bill by Liberal National Caucus Chair Anthony Rota.
Bill C-22, introduced last week by government House Leader Peter Van Loan, modifies the current formula used to determine the number of seats for each province in Canada’s Parliament. If passed, this legislation will effectively weaken Ontario’s position in the House of Commons, adding fewer seats to the province than their population should dictate.
“What’s shameful is the silence on this bill from Ontario Conservative Members of Parliament. While their House Leader is busy making inappropriate personal attacks on the Premier, they’re sitting on their hands, and allowing the people they represent to be shortchanged,” said Mr. Maloney.