Someone sent me the relevant portion of the Canadian constitution to point out the federal government can’t deeply cut equalization payments (see below). I have read this before and am actually fascinated by the language of this section of the constitution.
It talks abou the national government responsibility to further economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities.
That is a madingly oblique statement but I read that to mean opportunities in the wider sense of that word – social and economic. If that’s the case, you could argue the feds are not living up to the constitution because of the significant out-migration since the repatriation of the constitution because of the lack of opportunity here.
EQUALIZATION AND REGIONAL DISPARITIES
Commitment to promote equal opportunities
36. (1) Without altering the legislative authority of Parliament or of the provincial legislatures, or the rights of any of them with respect to the exercise of their legislative authority, Parliament and the legislatures, together with the government of Canada and the provincial governments, are committed to
(a) promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians;
(b) furthering economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities; and
(c) providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians.
Commitment respecting public services
(2) Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.(98)
2 thoughts on “The Constitution”
Under the “Savoie Law” (which states that sponsors of new initiatives must show where the money will come from), I suppose that the provincial tax dollars used to fight in the Courts for equalization would have to come from the money now being wasted by GNB in the current Court battle over abortion access in NB.
The big problem there is this:
“Without altering the legislative authority of Parliament or of the provincial legislatures, or the rights of any of them with respect to the exercise of their legislative authority”
In other words, the feds can’t just come in and say “Ok, you guys are doing a crappy job of ED, so we’re going to do it”. Some could argue that it would be great if that were the case. The biggest benefit of a ‘big government’ is that its necessary to go up against ‘big industry’. So a lot of people have argued that since NB won’t do squat about, say, the Irving monopoly on media, then its up to the federal government to use its monopoly laws to do just that. The province, its argued, simply doesn’t have the clout to go up against a family that is worth about the same as the entire budget of the provincial government.
That is why I’ve said that initiatives need to come from the grassroots. Governments have enough to worry about without LOOKING for new projects. So it takes a lot of work to get organized and get to the point where the feds will look at a project and say “ok, this is worth funding”. And again, a lot of that goes back to private interests. And again I’ll use the local example of the Perimeter Institute. A local think tank that contributes NO research for the market, but it was started by the local billionaire, so the feds stood up and took notice. They didn’t want to upset him, so now this one institute, in probably the ugliest building you’ve ever seen, gets more federal funding for research that contributes NO market ready knowledge, than ALL of New Brunswick.
It would be a VERY tough sell to try to sue the feds and say “you aren’t doing enough here”. Again, we need to go back to what a poster from BC once said a long time ago-do we IN FACT know that there is significant research and economic development initiatives that are DENIED by the feds, or is there simply that much less going on? To make a somewhat bad analogy, if you are on the street corner asking for more money, and somebody comes along and says “how are you going to invest this much money?” and the only answer is “oh I’m not going to invest it, I’m just going to spend it all on my health care and maybe some new clothes and shoes”.
That level of poverty can’t be simply laid at the feet of the feds. As I’ve said before, if you go around St. John, Fredericton and Moncton, much of the province looks every bit as ‘prosperous’ as any other province in the country (if you think you have poverty, go visit Vancouver). So until we have some “fact based evidence” of exactly how the province is being ‘cheated’, you can’t bitch at the feds for giving NB 150 million and the province spending it on a small stretch of the transcanada as opposed to ‘investing’ it.
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