Thursday, May 05, 2005


Bling Bling

First Newfoundland and Labrador, then Nova Scotia and finally Saskatchewan. All three provinces received fiscal compensation from the Government of Canada for energy royality embalances. Now comes word that New Brunswick is set to get a side deal from the GOC for another resource embalance. For energy embalances? Nope. For political vote-buying and people embalance.

Paul Martin (and Andy Scott) are using the public treasury in attempt to solidify the Liberal hold in the province. A potential federal deal worth hundreds of millions to New Brunswick would attempt to stem the province's steady depopulation by funding its richest resource - people.

Native Affairs Minister Andy Scott confirmed Wednesday that he's been working since December on a proposal that could bring a windfall New Brunswick. "The biggest single challenge facing the province of New Brunswick (and PEI, NS, SK, MB, NF, Northern Ontario and most of rural Canada)is demographics. We're getting older, we're getting smaller and we're getting less educated at a time when you have to be younger, bigger and more educated," he said.

Various government insiders say the potential deal is worth "between $700 million and $800 million" for programs that target key areas over the next five to seven years.

Mr. Scott said the biggest problem is that much of what Ottawa wants to get involved in is under provincial jurisdiction. Hmmm.. fiscal embalance!

"We're talking to the province, the universities, basically trying to see what kind of interest there might be in partnering around a project that would see us dealing with depopulation," Mr. Scott said. "We have a serious demographic challenge in New Brunswick."

Officials in Mr. Scott's office said the strategy would recognize New Brunswick's people and its thriving bilingual culture as its greatest asset by targeting programs that fit into five distinct areas.

They include programs for:

* Youth, including apprenticeship programs and student debt-relief measures.

* Immigration, including educational opportunities for foreign students.

* Post-secondary education and skills training.

* Research, innovation and entrepreneurship, including studies into why researchers choose New Brunswick.

* Culture, heritage and cultural tourism, including ways to attract and keep new people.

Apparently someone should hand the PMO a calculator. If you are going to get involved in provincial matters, why not choose Ontario where there are 106 seats and a Premier who has played the fiscal embalance card, once or twice. FYI - there are 10 seats in New Brunswick. Poor math Paul.


Paul's meeting with Dalton this weekend. Do you think they'll cut a deal? How much surplus is left. I want to see some data on how much spending is going up. I have to admit, I like the NB programs. Give up your view on assymeticalism. How's the deal in SK, did you deserve it? Or is it crass vote buying.

I'm not convinced that it's the end of Canada. It ultimately represents a short term boosting for some regions. Instead of redoing equalization, the feds give more over to those who need it. Alberta is doing well so they just keep doing their own thing.

Does it fatally fragment the country? How's it going down in QC, is there a link with the recent PQ report (the $5B)? I think they're just revving up the engine and it becomes a propaganda war. I don't think the Quebecois are unhappy and are totally maitres chez nous already.

Sorry for the deep intergov thoughts.
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