I’m in Ontario for a couple of days on business. I have a couple of observations for your edification. First, I saw our old friend Bernie on Mike Duffy Live after the Conservative blowout in Ontario doing damage control. He looked in fine form. When you combine his overt visibility (campaigning for Tories in Ontario and in the Quebec by-election) with his new house in New Brunswick – and the ‘rumours’ in the T&T – it is starting to look like he will run federally – unless he is angling for a Federal appointment (ambassador, VIA Rail, or something). I don’t think we have seen the last of Bernie.
I also saw Jim Flaherty announcing the $800 million in capital spending for VIA Rail. It seemed to me that old Jim looked pained making this announcement. Combine this with his bouncy and robust announcement of $13 billion to pay down debt recently – I conclude that Jim is a real conservative. Pragmatic, maybe, but conservative nevertheless. In addition, I wonder if Bombardier needed a little injection. Just a thought.
I was struck by the Nova Scotia side deal on Equalization worked out with Stephen Harper. We were told there would be no deals. Now we have a deal. I believe Harper actually called it a ‘deal’ in the announcement. This prompted several NB observers to demand S. Graham push harder for his ‘deal’.
As I have said before, I have been evolving my thinking on this. I think we need a “with or without you” approach. If you wait for the Feds, you may wait forever. Sure, you get a scapegoat to blame but that’s cold comfort. We are slated to get another $26 million in Equalization next year and $41 million more in 2009. It would be neat if the province said they would plow this dough into economic development. It’s not much but it would be a start.