Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fire Sale

Emboldened by Dalton McGuinty's recent payoffs on daycare and transfer payments, Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert is off to Ottawa to extract his pound of flesh from the Libranos. As CP reports:

Calvert has a meeting with Finance Minister Ralph Goodale on Tuesday and, if all goes well, a meeting with the prime minister will follow, he said. He said he is planning to return home with a cheque.

"I think we can all observe that there is a desire in the national government to conclude some of these outstanding files," Calvert told reporters Monday.

"I'm appreciative of this opportunity to conclude it."


Saskatchewan has long been seeking an accord that would essentially see all of its oil and gas revenues removed from the federal equalization formula.

It's similar to a deal that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were able to negotiate with Ottawa earlier this year, taking into account their offshore oil revenues.

The Saskatchewan government has never put a figure on how much it wants from Ottawa, other than to say that it has missed out on about $4 billion in extra revenue over the last decade because of the way oil royalties are handled by the formula.
Saskatchewan is currently one of a handful of provinces that does not receive any equalization payments because higher resource royalties from high oil prices have swelled the province's coffers.

But the prairie province has long contended that its equalization payments are clawed back at an unfair rate because of its energy revenues.

Premier Calvert will indeed come home with a cheque for about...oh, say, $4 billion? If he pulls down the Canadian flag, maybe he can get a couple hundred million more on top. And if he threatens to deploy the provincial NDP machine against Ralph Goodale in Wascana....

Paul Martin will pay any price to cling to power for just one more day, and he's already paid with his reputation for fiscal responsibility.

But hey, it's easy money. If we beg and scream loud enough, maybe Paul and Ralph will cut us cheques too.

Why don't we ask them?

Ralph Goodale: Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca
Paul Martin: Martin.P@parl.gc.ca

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