Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On the Rags - News in Canada

(Let me apologise for the title right off, but I'm feeling up to my nostrils in dung and the weight of the federation is an anvil on my head)

Main stream newspapers, bah! Pressed pulp collections, the poorest use for a tree. Then again with so many bloggers in the arse pocket of some lobby group or political interest who do you trust? Makes me wonder two things. First, to what extent have these political whores discredited the Blogosphere and news rags? Secondly I must be a bit of a fool for not dipping into that purse. Taking the moral high road is both lonely and poor.

Anyway here’s a bit of mainstream tripe for your feeding. The basic jest of this is, with respect to Harper’s Government, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are hostile and irrational, Quebec wallows in petty protectionism, and Albertans are Yosemite Sam incarnate.

Only mother Ottawa is holding this country together. The ideal situation according to this editorial is disagreement and squabbling among the premiers so that we can be rescued once again by Steve and the Harpies. Not sure what sort of “equality” Steve is ready to dish out this time. Pretty much all we have left down here is a damn fine Sunday dinner. Although without the turnip that Steve took at the last go round it’s hardly a complete meal. Maybe we’ll get the turnip back when Steve has squeezed the last bit of blood from them.

From August 8 National Post p.18 Editorial

No fed-bashing – but no deal, either

“There will be plenty of talk about worthwhile initiatives ... and the like, but the real issues are intractable.”

Premiers gather in Moncton today for their annual meeting and they are promising, remarkably enough, not to bash Ottawa. How refreshing.

Specifically, the premiers assembling for the Council of the Federation conference are saying they will stay away from the subject of equalization payments. This is in large part because they’re hopelessly split on it. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan are all still somehow bitter about the new arrangement worked out by Stephen Harper’s federal government, even though the arrangement, greased by extra federal money, has won reasonable levels of support in the other seven provinces and the territories. The two Atlantic grumblers, in particular, come off as merely truculent and unreasonable.

And out-numbered. The three malcontent governments are in three small provinces, and they’ll be unable to stop the equalization express. That’s just as well, because the new deal has lots going for it besides generosity: consistency, predictability and logic.

The fact that the premiers will focus elsewhere this week is, then, a sign of success for Harper. Even the showman Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, who has been chewing the scenery in his denunciations of Harper, has calmed down enough to say “there's a mood ... to move to a higher level and not to be seen as a group of premiers that come together to bash the federal government.”

Without Ottawa as a unanimous target, the premiers might fall to pious generalities, or to squabbling among themselves on the three subjects that dominate their agenda.

Two of the three topics, energy and climate change, are closely related. There will be plenty of talk about worthwhile initiatives about mapping energy resources and the like, but the real issues are intractable: Most provinces favour tougher measures on greenhouse-gas emissions, but Alberta adopts its gunslinger pose as soon as it hears the phrase “carbon tax” or even a reference to emissions trading. Last week, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach gave the back of his hand to a proposal, from Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty, for a national cap-and-trade emissions plan. Global climate change, Alberta seems to be saying, is not our problem.

Oh well, at least Stelmach will go along with the meeting’s cheap symbolism: The premiers will eat local food, their vehicles won’t idle and they’ll drink local water out of reusable bottles.

The third issue is interprovincial trade, and here the prototype is the Alberta British Columbia deal signed last winter, which lowers labour-market barriers and makes it easier for companies to do business across the border the two provinces share.

It’s a disgrace that other provinces – Quebec not least – still wallow so deeply in petty protectionism, imposing barriers and burdens on the growth of prosperity. But they do, and while the federal government has talked a good game on encouraging a true free market within Canada, its jawboning has accomplished little so far.

The meeting will also have its share of street theatre: Nurses from across the country will be picketing to demand more money for health care. Business groups want improved dispute-settlement mechanism under the current Agreement on Internal Trade. Saskatchewan, which grows lots of corn, will be tub-thumping for ethanol. And so on.

The meeting promises to be a treat for the country’s story starved media. We just wish we could believe it will accomplish anything.


kodak said...

Obviously written by someone who lives on Lake Urine, who has a polluted attitude. Good write-up bnb.

BNB said...

Nice Quip Kodak - I like it!