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Quick Hits, Volume XXXIII

Joe Volpe's KKK remarks are pretty stupid, and that's even when I cut him some slack for being an Italian offended by jokes about "The Liberanos".

Anyway, in my view Joe Volpe has had a pattern of going beyond the call of duty in defending his party. He seems to have taken his role as Liberal Minister Responsible for the GTA as meaning that it's his job to scold us as ungrateful for criticizing the GTA caucus when it fails to deliver.

Ian Welsh has gone a bit further on the subject of my previous post. A quote: "Harper's not an idiot. These policies may be about 'democracy' but they will have far reaching economic as well as political effects which people should think on now. Because I don't want to be here in ten years saying 'I told you so.' If these are the consequences you want - fine."

Dalton McGuinty continues to make demands that are in harmony with Conservative policy. In preparing for next week's provincial budget, Dalton made remarks quoted in the Toronto Star:

"Ontarians are generating all the wealth that we need," he said. The problem is the gap between what Ontario pays to Ottawa in taxes and what it gets back from the federal government in programs and transfers, McGuinty said.

"One of the challenges we have is they?re sending $23 billion of that wealth to the federal government for distribution to the rest of the country," he said.

As I wrote the other day, Harper's plan includes devolving "tax points to the individual provinces. Love it or hate it, you have to admit this policy has winners and losers..." Ontario would be one of those winners that would have more revenue and/or less tax as a result of such a change.

Interestingly that same Toronto Star article reports that a Leger Marketing study "found 74 per cent of those surveyed blame the federal government for the province's budget deficit."

Now, while I feel that things are out of whack in Ottawa -- see here for just one example -- and the net contribution that Ontario makes is not being spent as wisely as we should expect, it is hard to blame the federal government for Ontario's mess. The so-called Ontario fiscal imbalance hurts Ontario taxpayers, but doesn't block Queen's Park from doing its job.

Unlike municipalities, the Government of Ontario has every power required to balance its budget. It can raise any form of tax, and has not had responsibilities downloaded onto it that haven't been left to other provinces as well. In other words, it is in no different position than any other provincial government. Its budget is a mess because Mike Harris and Ernie Eves left it that way and Dalton McGuinty hasn't done enough to fix it.

Another poll has been added to the several recent ones that show Conservative support stalled around where it was in the last election.

Nevertheless, Harper insists they are going to bring us an election as soon as possible. (Though, that may not be so very soon.) Harper is gambling that he'll be able to put forward a vision for Canada that will win him enough votes to call himself Prime Minister. He hasn't done so yet. Still, the worst-case scenario I can imagine for the Cons is that we end up with a similar parliament to the one we have now. That might cost Harper his job, but will still leave them another chance to take power.

Still, my inclination right now would be to bet against Kevin, and predict a slim Conservative minority.




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