The Agenda with Steve Paikin

You have got to listen to this podcast. It’s from the TVO Agenda program and it is on the now pervasive “Is Ontario getting its fair share” argument.

The panelists were all Ontarioians so you will find the discussion what you would expect. Jeffrey Simpson is the most rational of the bunch.

But I couldn’t believe it. Everytime one of the panelists mentioned the problems, then used New Brunswick as the example. On EI, Equalization. All the ills of the system – they all mentioned New Brunswick. Cripes. We have become the poster child for all that’s wrong. It’s such a condescending view. Why not Man- friggin’ toba? Or Quebec? Or PEI? Good old New Brunswick. Some day, someone in Fredericton is going to figure this out and stop playing around.

The guy from the Ontario Centre for Competitiveness and Prosperity had it right, however. He said that the transfer programs had ultimately not helped but had made places like New Brunswick a permanent underclass. And he is right on that. The way the system is setup the minute you have some economic success, they clawback your transfer payments.

I have called on this blog for a new deal that would freeze funding levels – particularly Equalization – for 10 years as part of an overall Ireland-style plan to build up New Brunswick’s capacity for business investment attraction. But that doesn’t get any play in Freddy or Ottawa.

I guess we are happy to be the exemplar of the poor province in Canada for pundits and think tanks in Ontario. This needs to stop.

And as for the Ontario Centre for Competitiveness and Prosperity, we need a made-in-New Brunswick version of that centre. One that puts a particular focus on this stuff but from a New Brunswick perspective. What will make New Brunswick competitive for the long term?

We are constantly going through these exercises with government – McKenna, Lord, Graham and nothing really moves ahead. The Irish Premier talked about how impressed she was with the education reforms put in place by McKenna. She should have said she was so impressed with what she was told about the education reforms put in place by McKenna. New Brunswick’s education performance is still tied for dead last in Canada. McKenna had his gimmicks – every child will know about computers – Lord wanted a laptop for every high school kid – but there must be something more.

Something about reversing a cultural attitude in New Brunswick. I guess we are pretty well satisfied with our position because we really don’t demand anything from our politicians.

Listen to the podcast. Tell me if I am wrong. Remember, this podcast is about Ontario. So New Brunswick is only mentioned maybe 10 times. But everytime it is in the context of being the arse end of things.

But just to come full circle on this I continue to find Ontario politicians whining about this to be somewhat funny. Ontario has been -by far- the biggest beneficiary of federal economic development efforts over the years from the auto pact, to the Saint Lawrence Seaway to C.D. Howe’s building of 90% of Canada’s military manufacturing infrastructure in the Montreal to Toronto corridor. The feds have always known where their electoral bread is buttered (Harper has figured this out as well) and have fed that constituency. And as was pointed on The Agenda, the quid pro quo for that was to skim off a few dollars and send it to the poor hinterland to keep the populace quiet. Now, they want to take back even that pittance.

As I have said before. Ontario can have back its Equalization and especially its EI (that is a central concern of McGuinty that the average EI collector in Ontario gets less than the average EI collector in New Brunswick because the program is skewed to help seasonal workers – he can have it) if we get the Auto Pact or how about the billions given to Ontario firms under Industry Canada programs? Or how about the billions more in R&D that the feds spend in Ontario. We’ll take all that economic development-stimulating spending and McGuinty can have all the economic development-stifling EI and other programs designed to keep us down.

Go ahead. Take the deal. McGuinty as Peter Pocklington. We get Gretzkey and you get – who was it? Bernie Nichols?

Cripes. It’s 2 am and I can’t sleep because of this crap.

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0 Responses to The Agenda with Steve Paikin

  1. mikel says:

    Keep in mind Dave that YOU are probably pretty responsible for that. When you type in most of these factors online-as no doubt the panelists did-guess whose name comes up.

    I haven’t listened yet but it sounds like they are RIGHT about NB being the ‘arse end’-hasn’t that always been your point?

    In fact even your solution of a equalization funding freeze sounds like something they’d say. Where exactly do you think that money would come from? Do you think all the NB corporations will suddenly come up and say ‘well, we better get some serious investment going here to make up the difference!’. Do you think that there is really tens of millions of dollars that government is spending on getting their hair and nails done so they will say they better get that money doing some better works? (keep in mind I’d agree there is government waste, but come on).

    If I thought for ten seconds it would make government think “hey, maybe we should charge Irving 30 million in property taxes like other refineries” then I’d agree, its not a freaking refinery can’t afford it. But thats not going to happen, the province’s health care system barely functions, education is getting cut back so much that corporations are being asked to fund public school programs.

    All those other factors are quite true, so don’t play their game of freezing transfer payments-that won’t accomplish anything, if you don’t think things can get worse, you haven’t seen much of the world.

  2. mikel says:

    I did just listen to it Dave, and I think you are over-reacting-or maybe I’ve just been in ontario too long. However, I counted the times they said New Brunswick, and only once did they say ONLY New Brunswick, usually it was lumped in with Newfoundland.

    The one time it was mentioned specifically wasn’t even a put down, it was by Jeffrey Simpson who indicated that virtually every province-specifically NB, would simply state to ontario that ‘welcome to the club..we’ve gone through the hard times you are, in fact we still are’.

    But people should listen and make up their own minds because like most ontario shows they pretty much ignored the rest of the country. I’ve often made the complaint that the agenda is sort of like what one poster here called ‘the chattering class’ and I must admit that that old lady and one other guy really had very little to say.

    In fact, even the prosperity centre guy was pretty light on seasonal workers, and mentioned something mentioned here before-punishing those companies that use seasonal workers to help pad their bottom line. And while I don’t think most corporations can complain, the EI premiums issue has been one for a long time.

    The show could have been about half that length but as a member of TVO I’m going to go mention the maritime view at the blog-although as you said, Jeffrey Simpson did at least mention it. Overall I was expecting far worse from your blog, and don’t think it was nearly as ‘insulting’ as you think it was. Ontarians, of course, would NEVER insult the maritimes, a real ontarian never even THINKS about the maritimes except for vacation and remarks on ‘how friendly all those people are’ as if its a separate race or something. (ontarians FROM the maritimes are usually a different story)

  3. David Campbell says:

    Admittedly it was 1:30 am when I listened to it and I maybe overreacted a bit. But it did seem that NB was the example of choice as the counterpoint to Ontario.

  4. Vincerolly says:

    NB absolutely is the arse end of Canada from an ED perspective. What does the ROC think of WRT NB? Failing forestry? Massive 19th century pollution potential via the "energy hub" future, which is really downtown refineries? Glad-handing fossils like McKenna tooting their own horns about where NB could go, even though they did almost nothing when they were in power? Bottom of the barrel in literacy? Last in R&D? Last in FDI? Almost NO investment at all from NB organizations? I could go on but YOU HAVE and you're correct. We have a big problems in this province.

    And complacency on the part of elites everywhere on all issues. Comparing ourselves to other putative underperformers does not help.

    Think this through, David. And get some sleep.

  5. Gawain says:

    It’s time to examine the root of our problems — our culture.

  6. Anonymous says:

    David is more right than Little mcguinty.
    Ontario budget,they spend 120 Billion

    Mcguinty quotes they missing out on less than 3 billion.

    NB gets 2.5 billion transfers
    Quebec gets 25 billion plus

    EI is the same in both provinces,as per the stats.Fred. and Halifax are same as Ontario.EI drawn is 55% of income everwhere.As David said,the only way Ontario could match NB is to have more unemployed .Not the brightest boys doing the thinking!
    Mcguinty either don’t know or is lying.
    Ontario is the poorest run province in Canada,including the northern ones.

    New Brunswick is what it is and will continue to decline as long as emphasis is not placed on education and hiring the best.This is a fact.
    Taking all that in consideration,a lot of Canada just envious of the happy NBer,who lives in the best province,with the friendliest people.So you can imagine how ugly the ROC are.
    Quebec,as natural,is stripping everybody.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Letter to Toronto Star,right on.

    NB is run far better,under the circumstances,which is the killer agreement to force NB bilingual,which would be an alright Idea, if it was economy driven,instead of just a waste of money for a nonproductive fantasy.
    No Accountability –the Feds know. And so does the Province
    Ontario is the Dead Last province in accountability. “Dead Last” of all province’s in terms of Ombudsman oversight. Billions go into the Ontario MUSH sector (Municipalities, Universities, Schools, Hospitals) and Ontario has slammed the lid on oversight into these entities. The Feds know this. Would you drop billions into something that you can’t prove was well-spent? Yeah, I know. We’re forced to. But the FEDS have a CHOICE! Ya think that being “Dead Last” in Accountablity/Oversight might be part of Ontario’s woes? Signed, The Mississauga Muse

    Posted by at 9:23 AM Saturday, September 13 2008

  8. mikel says:

    Those are a lot of issues, but I don’t think by too many criteria it can be said that New Brunswick is ‘run better’ than Ontario. How much oversight is done of universities in NB? Not much. For municipalities that’s different, they have virtually no powers and few resources. While there have been issues where more larger municipalities have been holding closed door meetings, its still a pretty minor issue. Municipalities are pretty open with their books, especially compared to the province.

    So ‘us against them’ isn’t really an issue here. For EI, that’s not true above, seasonal unemployment is really the hot button issue. EI is largely dependant on ridings and regions, not provinces. When I first moved to ontario years ago it was in landscaping, thats a section that’s clearly seasonal, and EI USED to be available in the landscaping industry, then they cut it back to every second year, then none at all.

    In Hamilton training was available in computer technology to get out of the industry, but right next door in Burlington there was no training available at all.

    There’s no doubt that collecting EI in NB is easier, they mentioned Toronto but don’t mention that barely anybody is even ALLOWED to collect EI. You can’t even collect EI now if you are FIRED. That has serious consequences, particularly for safety, you blow the whistle on your employer, you get fired, and you’re screwed.

    As the guy on the panel said, one way to make it fairer is to make the same resources available so that those in Toronto CAN collect EI. There are lots of jobs, and EI has always had a surplus, so there is no reason why workers shouldn’t be benefitting more with far more training, etc.

    But its doubtful the panel is right, it certainly isn’t political parties and ridings-its regions. Yvon Godin didn’t get more EI to his region because he’s NDP, he got it because Quebec raises hell for seasonal workers. And like the only reasonably smart guy there said, when quebec interests come up, everybody acts in unison to get the situation rectified. English canadians are always griping about quebec ‘being selfish’ and crap like that, but you don’t hear Shawn Graham championing Manitoba issues. They simply know how to do politics. Of course keep in mind in NB its not that different-Irving did get 50 million to close a shipyard and build a wallboard factory.

  9. David Campbell says:

    I don’t want to make this an Ontario v. New Brunswick issue. The idea of a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’ here is not the point. The idea should be to find a model that works for both.

  10. nbt says:

    The idea should be to find a model that works for both.

    Obviously you don’t believe in the century old “zero sum” federalist theory, David.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I told you Mikel that EI is a federal program practiced the same in all provinces.Get fired in NB you don’t get EI.Quit your job you have a waiting period ans may not get it.
    Last time I drew in NB it was for 12 weeks.
    So don’t tell me.Mcguinty is wrong ,and in about everything he does.Besides if he thinks $3 billion will fix his problems,when Ontario spending went from 90 billion to 120 billion in 5 years,he nuts.
    The fact is,I know a lot of people in NB and other provinces, and living in NB is a luxury in comparison and the rest of Canada hates this fact.Where else could a poor premier become a

  12. mikel says:

    People living in ANY province will say that ‘their place is best’. But by any standards that’s ludicrous.

    Nobody is saying that ontario is ‘right’ or that they have a leg to stand on in making this argument, but in EI we have the stats. In Toronto only 38% of people even qualify for EI, in NB its close to 80%. I didn’t say it was different and that if you get fired in NB then you could get EI, that’s a separate point altogether. What I said was as a federal program EI is REGIONAL, not provincial. Each region gets a certain amount of money from the feds. Even within NB it will be far different, say, in Cap Pele, than it is in downtown St. John. The reasoning behind that of course is that there are no jobs in Cap Pele.

    But the idea that the rest of canada hates the fact that living in New Brunswick is a luxury is absurd. It’s pretty, that’s true, but most of canada is pretty. If a person has money then living ANYWHERE in Canada will be nice so long as they aren’t near pollution.

    Most canadians know absolutely nothing about New Brunswick, if it were such a luxury then certainly tourism would be booming far more than it is. This isn’t a government website and David et al are not here to jingoistically talk about how New Brunswick is the greatest place on earth-there are other blogs for that.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You can’t get the facts right on EI.In fact you must be talking about welfare.
    EI is federal,and you can get EI ,by law ,in any province or municipality,exactly the same ,if you meet the qualifications which are STANDARD across the country.
    55% of your gross salary for a set amount of weeks ,and weeks limiting each year you go on EI until you hit the minimum,which is the same in every province pro rated to the job statistics.
    EVERBODY who qualifies for EI QUALIFIES?!
    If you don’t qualify in ontario you don’t in NB, SIMPLE.
    And with the EI rules the way they are NOBODY wants to deal in EI.
    Its a stupid topic from a stupid premier,who doesn’t know sweet all.
    Now when stats say,your people are the happiest,and the most sex,and least cost for housing,ITS THE BEST, B_E_S_T.TOUGH

  14. richard says:

    "Ontario has been -by far- the biggest beneficiary of federal economic development efforts "

    True, but then ON has the population (and thus the votes) to get what it wants. We do not.

    Time would be better spent on what can be done to create more opportunity in NB, rather than what ON thinks of us. Increase R&D? Sure, but it needs to be focussed on those areas where success is most likely. IMHO, that's scientific R&D on value-added natural resources.

    Last week I heard that our local high school only offers university science prerequisite courses if there enough interest among the high-schoolers. Sheesh! That's NB for you. A strong science training should be mandatory for all high school students. Couple that with more R&D in NB then maybe we will see some high-paying jobs created here.

    David, if The Agenda is keeping you up, I have a solution – don't watch it. Encouraging Paiken should be a criminal offence. If you want the 'new' ideas that this show supposedly presents, try American public radio instead. The Agenda normally recycles them for 'worldclass' Toronto anyway.