Canadian premiers foreshadowed a coming clash with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday over his pledge to diminish Ottawa's role in creating national social programs, warning that poorer Canadians could suffer.
"I'm a bit concerned about it. Are we talking about preventing the federal government from at some point in the future setting up social programs like daycare or pharmacare? Because I don't support that," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said as the premiers wrapped up their annual meeting.
"I'm a proud Ontarian. Proud to lead this province. But I'm a proud Canadian first."
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said he doesn't believe in duplication of spending, "but I also believe in the role of the national government to have the ability to redistribute opportunities and equity for regions in Canada that need it."
In the natural order, it is the job of the federal government to act as a check on ever demanding, power hungry provinces. However, when you have a Prime Minister who shows a distaste for the relevance of his own organ, the balance is lost. It is remarkable that it is left to the Premiers, who are generally narrow in their concerns, to argue the case for cohesion and national presence. The fact that the conversation has taken this form, should be considered a disgrace, because it demonstrates the lack of a real Prime Minister of Canada, who can speak above the regional noise.
UPDATE Woman At Mile 0, on the same topic.