Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Approaching equalization

It's no great surprise that Lorne Calvert and Danny Williams are working together to get non-renewable resource revenues excluded from the equalization formula. More surprising, though, is that a province which was once onside appears to have backed away from that position:
Other provinces, such as Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, want non-renewable resource revenue included in a new formula, which is used to calculate equalization payments for each of the so-called have-not provinces.
If Ontario is indeed now the main driving force in the opposite direction, that's rather a huge turnaround given what Dalton McGuinty had to say a few months ago:
After meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert on Thursday, McGuinty said he won't oppose excluding non-renewable resource revenues for the complicated federal revenue-sharing formula.

"I've told Lorne that I certainly will not argue against that," McGuinty told reporters at the Saskatchewan legislature.

"I've come away today with a much better understanding of Saskatchewan's perspective and I also must say that I don't know how the prime minister is going to be able to move away from the commitment he made to exclude non-renewables from the calculations of equalization."
It's not clear now what exactly happened between then and now. But if Calvert and Williams are correct in saying that B.C. and Alberta are also onside, then McGuinty's promised support might well be enough to crystallize a consensus on the issue (subject to suitable accommodations for less resource-rich provinces). Which means that Ontario's government will have a lot of explaining to do if Canadian provinces end up stuck with a Con-imposed structure due to its own change of position.

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