The worst part is, there's no opposition to any of this. Martin shells out $5.75-billion to Ontario to shut McGuinty up for a few weeks about the "$23-billion gap"? Harper's hardly likely to object, having sided with the premier himself. $5-billion for daycare? The Conservatives have promised at least a much. Another $5-billion for the cities? The Tories aren't promising quite the same deal, but will honour any agreements the Liberals strike. $2.8-billon more in equalization payments to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia? They're down with that. Meaningless health care accords, with billions and billions out the door to the provinces in exchange for six magic beans? No problemo. A budget that, even before the recent goldrush, projects a $12-billion increase in spending over the next two years, on top of the $17-billion increase recorded last year? The Tories abstained.In the rush to pander to the toronto Star dazed Ontario voter, the Liberals are willing to promise the Earth and the Moon and the Stars and the best the CPC can do is run about yelping "Us too, with a cherry on top."
What I would love to see is Harper come out with a program to end all equalization payments within, say, five years. Basically say to the sportsfishermen of Newfoundland and the hobby farmers of Quebec: "In five years all equalization will end. Once we have paid off the debt we will be giving back the tax room the federal government has taken from the provinces."
Instead we are engaged in a goofy, intellectually empty, bidding war.