I have been following, from afar, the increasing intensity of the fighting between the feds and several provinces over the natural resources-based side deals for NL and NS.
It seems to me there are a few interesting points including:
1. The only winner seems to be media outlets. Between Danny Williams buying national ads and the feds buying ads in key local newspapers, there seems to be lots of money spent.
2. I think this whole thing is highly complex and really a no win situation. If you please NL, you piss off Quebec, if you favour NS, you piss off NB, etc. So eventually the feds had to flip some form of coin.
However, this assertion by Flahrety that you can’t govern by ‘side deal’ is pretty funny, actually.
The feds are all about ‘side deals’ and always have been. Side deals with specific provinces on immigration. Side deals with specific provinces on industry funding (think auto in Ontario and aerospace in Quebec). Side deals on infrastructure (think $100 million high tech incubation centre in Toronto). Side deals on airport privatization. On and on.
But there are always political calculations associated with these side deals and it would seem the cost associated with honouring the Paul Martin side deals with NL and NS were just too high for Harper and gang.
But in fairness to NL and NS positions, they finally have a source of revenue (oil & gas) that could lead to a more direct path to economic revitalization (without relying on the feds to save the day through Equalization to ease the guilty conscience while doling out billions to industry in Ontario and Quebec). So their position seems to have validity to it.
However, it leaves old NB, PEI, et. al. out in the cold looking for their own side deal.
The fun continues.