Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Belligerent federalism"

If I lived in Saskatchewan, I'd be mightily peeved at the flippant treatment of my province's concerns at the hands of the federal Conservatives of late...they seem to be going out of their way to mock Calvert. From today's reporting on Calvert's appearance before a Senate committee:
Calvert told the committee he doesn't believe the unelected upper house has the right to change or defeat the federal budget, which overhauls the federal-provincial equalization funding program.

"Oh, I see. So this is just all some fluff to support your lawsuit?" Tory Senator David Angus replied.

Calvert's NDP government is going to court in the fall to challenge the constitutionality of the federal budget's changes to equalization.

Calvert fired back at Angus: "I take a little offence at a senator of Canada calling what I'm saying 'fluff.' Just as I take a little offence from your prime minister standing up in the House of Commons and saying to the people of Canada that what Saskatchewan is doing is, quote, absurd."

Harper dismissed the Saskatchewan lawsuit as absurd after challenging any disgruntled premiers to take the government to court.

Calvert fumed that other federal ministers have variously called Saskatchewan's campaign for justice "nuts" and "juvenile."

"What I'm doing here is trying to stand up for the people of Saskatchewan because we don't have a Conservative in the House of Commons who will," he snapped.

One Tory MP from Saskatchewan, Andrew Scheer, later said Calvert is "out to lunch," reinforcing the premier's complaint that the Harper government practices "belligerent federalism."
Calvert's got his legal action together and we'll see how that goes. I'm never as quick as the federal Conservatives appear to be, to dismiss any legal claim so easily. There are competing provisions in the Constitution that are at issue here and there should be, at a minimum, more respect emanating out of Ottawa for the legal process now that it's begun. Is that too much to ask, especially in the wake of the plaudits for the decorum in evidence on the Hill yesterday - or was that just a one day thing for the Conservatives?