Dispatches from the road: Toronto

Once again I find myself in Toronto – the epicentre of all things Canadiana. If Al Hogan thinks Moncton is ‘multicultural’, he should walk down Yonge Street.

But, as usual, when I visit TO, I have ran into three people that all, after finding out where I am from, say something like “my grandfather is from PEI” or “my mother was from Nova Scotia” or “I moved here five years ago from Moncton”. It’s the classic Toronto icebreaker.

But as I walk around, I wonder how long those historical linkages with Atlantic Canada will last. In Toronto alone, there have been over 2.4 new immigrants settle here in the last 30 years. That’s a population greater than New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador combined. I wonder what historical attachment they feel for New Brunswick.

Then I turn on the TV to find Daulton McGinty firmly stating once again on a local talk show about how the ‘fiscal imbalance’ is threatening Ontario’s prosperity. The commentators universally agreed. Then, I clicked on CanadaEast to find Premier Lord stating once again that if he doesn’t get a ‘side deal’ with the Feds, it will threaten New Brunswick’s ‘prosperity’.

I’m not kidding. They both use the word prosperity. The only nuance is that less money for New Brunswick is Ontario’s prescription for enhancing its prosperity and more money from Ontario is New Brunswick’s prescription for enhancing its prosperity.

Neat, huh?

So, back to the immigrant population. If Equalization and EI were conceived in the 1960s and 1970s by politicians closely linked by history to Atlantic Canada in some way (as outlined above), and if now many of those same politicians want to crack the whip (I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Maritimer in Daulton McGinty’s proverbial ‘woodpile’ sometime ago either); then is is realistic to think that ever increasing Equalization and EI is sustainable with the majority of Canadians now don’t have any connection to Atlantic Canada whatsoever?

I get particularly worried when Ontarioans or -ites or whatever, say that the fiscal imbalance is hampering their ability to invest in post-secondary education. Falling behind on the education front will scare Ontarioans more than most things.

So, back to my well worn – and most likely worn out – thesis. Let’s admit that Equalization and EI are hampering Atl. Canada’s economy. Let’s park all this silly talk about prosperity. Let’s ask Ontario, et. al to partner with us on a real economic development plan for Atl. Canada. One that leads to more good jobs (year round, please), increasing incomes and most importantly increasing taxes to reduce our dependance on other people’s money.

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