It is a scoundrel indeed who incites a racket to cover his own ass. Harper's Conservative government is pitting province against province to take the heat off their own inept governance. On equalization reform they brought all provincial governments together and told them to form a unanimous consenus on how to reform the equalization formula. In what cartoon world would ten provinces in a country as diverse as Canada agree to anything. I would suggest it would be easier to get a Vegan and a Texan to decide on what to get on their pizza. It's just not going to happen... but that's OK! This is failure by design. The addendum to the meeting of premiers is quite simply "if you can't come to a consensus the federal government will decide." Brilliant. Harper has set the stage; his standard reply to any criticism of equalization reform. "Well we tryed to let the premiers decide on equalization reform but they failed and we were forced to make the tough decisions".
Not such a tough decision though is it? For the federal government decisions that cater to the population dense Southern Ontario and Quebec regions buys the most votes, and for a minority government that is where the rubber hits the road.
So what can the Atlantic do to fight for regional rights and descrepancies in the federation? Provinces can form their own consenus - scare the feds into paying attention because in the end all they really heed are population numbers. But Harper is safe enough in that regard too isn't he... because as long as their are sleveens like Nova Scotian Premier Ronald MacDonald, Harper doesn't have a worry. MacDonald's strategy for his province goes like this. Side with Premier Williams in negotiating with Harper. Plan fails, go to plan B. Backroom negotiations with Harper trying to cut a side deal - throwing the Rodney-Danny alliance to the wind. Flaherty tells MacDonald to 'bugger off - he's not cutting any side deals'. MacDonald cries foul.
Oh if only MacDonald can rekindle some of that warmth he had with Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams in the early days of the Equalization talks. I suspect though that Danny may take a page from Flaherty's book and tell MacDonald that what they had is over. Find some other Sleveen for your side-deal negotiations. Lucky for MacDonald the country has more than it's share of 'em.