Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Feet to the fire

Lorne Calvert has gone public to point out that the federal government's quick fix to equalization hasn't really fixed anything. And the Liberal government's response has been predictable:
After finding out Saskatchewan won't get a dime in federal equalization payments next year, Premier Lorne Calvert is accusing the federal government of renegging on a promise.

Calvert says Prime Minister Martin promised Ottawa would stop the practice of clawing back more than 100 per cent of resource revenue when calculating payments to the provinces – but Calvert says that's exactly what Liberals are planning to do...

An equalization panel is working on a new approach that might be more favourable to Saskatchewan. However, on Tuesday, federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale said the panel wants more time to write its report. The report was supposed to be handed in next month, but now that won't happen until spring.

As a result, Goodale says, next year's equalization payments will be based on the old formula.
The origins of the problem lie in the Libs' original willingness to sign side deals rather than fixing the system generally. But at the very least, you'd think they'd know better than to try to back out of those side deals just before election time. And if that has the electoral consequence of cutting down on Lib/NDP vote-splitting at the polls, Calvert's move could do much more for his federal party than any amount of action from the premier next door.

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