I listen to The Agenda quite a bit on TVO – I find it an interesting window on the ideas swirling around in Canada’s most influential province.
Like clockwork, there is a show on how Ontario is aggrieved by the rest of Canada. This panel from last week entitled “Time to Put Ontario First” is a good example.
As far back as I can remember, Ontario politicians have complained that Ontario has been getting the shaft from the rest of Canada. There have been calls for a ‘better deal’, a ‘fair deal’, an ‘equal share’, etc. and that is slowly but surely getting through.
Since about 1820 or so (give or take a couple of years), Ontario has out-performed a place like New Brunswick in its economic growth (as represented by population growth as a good proxy). Much of this growth, as detailed by Savoie, was directly related to federal government policy from CD Howe’s building of the military industrial complex in Ontario to the auto pact to the absolute concentration of federal research funding into Ontario.
The problem I have is that NB is in a no-win situation. We don’t have the political power or the influence to do anything abou this. As I have pointed out here, at least in the past NB could hitch itself to Quebec to get population muscle but even Quebec has moved on (the CHT and equalization transfer calculations for example).
So the point is that NB needs a strong Ontario. A have Ontario generating lots of tax revenue.
The panel members (at least a couple) were explaining the glee felt by other Canadians when Ontario slipped into ‘have-not’ status a couple of years ago (apparently there is poll data on this).
The West may have this luxury but for the Maritime Provinces feeling ‘glee’ when Ontario suffers reminds me of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street when he said “I have mixed feelings about this. It’s like Larry Wildman going of a cliff…. In my new Maserati.”
New Brunswick and much of Canada is in big trouble without a relatively strong Ontario. For those who hear fingernails scraping on a chalkboard when you read this, read it again and again until you figure it out. New Brunswick’s destiny is tied to Ontario.