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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

mixing messages on equalization.

Is this what happens when Cabinet Ministers don't read their daily Public Affairs Bureau talking points?

Globe & Mail — Signalling a significant shift in tone, Alberta Finance Minister Lyle Oberg says he “won't object” to a controversial revamp the Harper government has planned for Canada's equalization formula — a development that could reduce political friction for next week's federal budget.

Mr. Oberg, a member of new Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's cabinet, said his province will not oppose the new formula, which takes into account resource revenues, as long as Ottawa pledges to fix per-capita transfer payments so that his province gets its fair share — another move expected in the budget.

But wait!

QP - March 12/07 - Mr. Stelmach: Mr. Speaker, we have a letter. When I say we, the Council of the Federation, this is all of the 10 Premiers. This letter was of course written to the then chair, the former Premier Ralph Klein, and again reiterated the position that the federal government will not include natural resource revenue in the calculation of the equalization formula. All we’re doing is that we’re going to hold the Prime Minister to that commitment.

Not that this changes much, it's just quite surprising that the Premier and the Finance Minister aren't on the same page on an issue as big as equalization (or big as some would like to make it).


Mark said...

Linguitics gymnastics will be in full effect on budget day, when five years of half-truths come home to roost. In Alberta, in Ottawa, in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and all points east.

Anonymous said...

Ricker Miller hits it out of the park with his QP question about this!

Gauntlet said...

including natural resource revenues amounts to either misunderstanding the purpose and means of the equalization program, or attempting to change it. If it's the latter, we really ought to be changing the constitution, not just making agreements that ignore it.

Equalization is supposed to provide reasonably similar levels of service at reasonably similar rates of taxation by ensuring adequate revenue for the provinces.

Non-renewable natural resource royalties are not "revenue." They are the transfer of an asset from one form (oil in the ground) to another form (cash in the bank).

It makes no more sense to include that in the equalization formulas than it does to include the money that I transfer from my chequing to my savings account as part of my "income" at tax time.

They are not income. They are wealth. Alberta is on solid ground in opposing that change. If that's what they eventually decide to do.

Anonymous said...


To put in bluntly you don't know what the hell you talking about. These has nothing to do with the transfer of non-renewable resource royalties and anybody who says so is being intellectually dishonest. Equalization is the use of federal tax dollars to equalize the level of services across the country, plain and simple. This is federal tax money. The feds can do whatever they want with their tax money, just like the province can do anything they want with their tax money. We are talking about including non-renewable reource revenues (not royalties) in the equalization formula. Please do your homework before spouting out about things you know nothing about. Read equalization 101 in the Report of the Expert Panel on Equalization and Territorial Financing located on the Finance Canada and read the paper by Ken Bossenkool written for the Canada West Foundation.

Do you think a moron like Guy Boutlier knows more about equalization that Al O'Brien, former Deputy Provincial Treasurer of the Province of Alberta and Dr, Mike Percy, Faculty of the Dean of Business of the Univesity of Alberta. These guys have IQs over 200, I'm not sure Guy "Bad Boy of Confederation" Boutilier has a IQ of 100.

So do your homework and let have an informed discussion, rather than the crap you are spouting

Anonymous said...

No DaveBerrta, this happens when a Premier gets bad advice and doesn't do his homework.

Anonymous said...

Does Rick Miller understand that one of the authors of the Expert Advisory Panel on Equalization and Territorial Financing is Mike Percy, former Liberal MLA for Calgary Whitemud. Maybe Mr. Miller needs to go back to equalization school as well.

By the way, when is Mr. Miller going to explain how he is going to hold spending in Alberta to 2% per year when all I hear from the Liberals is spend, spend, spend. If he thinks he can build a $120 billion Heritage Fund without oblitering the government in Alberta, he is a fool. It time the media stop giving this guy a free ride and ask him what programs and services he intends to cut. And that includes you Kevin Taft.

ken chapman said...

Anonymous at 7:29 has it right - on all counts. I think the Mar 12 QP answer shows that the new Alberta Premier is not very happy with Canada's "New" Government and the constant backtracking on prior promises. Income trust and equalization are biggies...but nothing compared to the cosmic Karma shift from denial of climate change to actually trying to buy Quebec and Ontario loyalty with preferential cash treatment. Just how "old school" Liberal can you get Steve?.

I think Stelmach is likely sending a message to Harper saying if you were wrong then - and wrong yet again. Can we, including Alberta, trust the capacity and integrity of the FedCons to be consistent and capable to design and deliver any policy of substance?

They have completed only one thing out of 5 since elected - the GST cut. Big Whoop! Everything else is half-hearted or half-baked or abandoned like wait times - abandoned.

While he pays the $100 per month for under six year olds and thne taxes it as income, the promise of 250,000 new child care placements -abandoned.

The quasi-Accountability Act - only partially done and the political cutiness to be sure it did not apply to certain CPC hacks is not reassuring of the integrity needed for good governance.

The crime and punishment action is pathetic - to the point I think it caused the Cabinet shuffle. The only thing he has done on crime and punishment is a totally inappropriate, and without notice, political interference in the judicial selection process.

Harper is now reintroducing most of the former Liberal programs and policies that he cut for partisan political and purging reasons.

Harper is now starting ot look like Liberal-Lite. I am wondering if perhaps he has taken to calling Chretien for mentoring instead of Mulroney.

Klein did not understand equalization and didn't care about the facts so long as his anit-Ottawa rhetoric kept the closest Alberta separatists, the firewallers, the grouchy reform NEP sighters and Rutherford Call-in Show listeners happy.

I am no big Oberg fan but he is absolutely right on this one...and should be congratulated.

Take Anonymous' advice and read those pieces he suggests...I have lots of postings on this issue on my blog too and all the links to the articles he suggests you read are all there if you are really interested in how it works - or just suffer from incurable insomnia.