How’s that for a subjective blog title?
But I will make the case for it.
As you know, the Equalization system is basically set up to reward economic failure. If your economy can’t generate enough own source taxes, the Equalization program kicks in. I am not going to put forward my thoughts on the program as I have done before.
But I do think that an evaluation of this program allows us to cut through the clutter. The spin. The propaganda. I heard once again yesterday how great the Lord economic track record has been.
Since the 1999-2000 budget, New Brunswick’s Equalization take has gone up 38%. Our neighbour to the east only required 10% more Equalization – and nobody is talking about the economic boom in Nova Scotia – because there hasn’t been one.
On a per capita basis the numbers are even more sobering. In 1999-2000 New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were just about equal in terms of the Equalization they extracted from the Feds. As of 2006-2007, New Brunswick required over $400 more for every man woman and child than Nova Scotia.
I haven’t trended this out but you can certainly see that another seven years of Bernard Lord will only put us deeper in the hole (assuming similar trends).
This is the one thing, however; that the Opposition party has to tred lightly around. On the one hand, I am sure they see these trends and are very worried. On the other, they can’t say ‘no’ when the Feds serve up new money.
It’s easy to see why Premier Lord has become the Welfare Premier. He has become so dependent on the Equalization program, it’s only logical that he is the chief spokesperson for enriching the program nationally.
But it’s the worst possible economic development strategy I can think of. As Canada is in its longest stretch of sustained economic growth in history (the last recession was in the early 1990s) all we can manage is population decline and a deepening dependence on Equalization and other Federal Transfers which are up hundreds of millions since 1999.
Betcha a buck not one party leader mentions Equalization in the debate on Thursday.