Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bargaining for advantage

Maclean's has this interview with Jeremy Kinsman, Canada's Ambassador to the EU:
I'm afraid to say the present guys who are running the big countries aren't the guys to do it. They fail to see beyond their own political, national self-interest. They've been running against Europe, against Brussels, for so long now, and bargaining with each other for advantage for so long, that they really can't mobilize people in favour of Europe. The European idea has lost its mobilizing credibility.

While Kinsman earlier draws a parallel to the failure of Meech Lake (and oddly argues that since the economy is doing well, the lack of an agreement doesn't much matter), an equally striking similarity is to the side-deal form of equalization. Of course, it's obvious why the premiers are willing to take whatever money they can get from the feds. It's less obvious why, rather than trying to build a system that's fair to each province, Martin has cut different deals for different provinces based on different criteria. Good politics for now, probably, since it forced the Newfoundland Cons to try to get the budget passed. But it's terrible long-term policy which will likely hurt the Liberals if future discussions result in any province getting less than it does under the status quo.

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