Friday, November 09, 2007

Don't mess with Hazel, part II

Dalton McGuinty had a meeting with Harper yesterday on the issue of funding for cities, among other things. Didn't go so well. From McGuinty's account, which was polite and coolly respectful, you can sense the tension.
The two leaders met privately for 45 minutes yesterday at a downtown hotel, with the premier suggesting federal funding could help cash-strapped Ontario municipalities.

"I raised the issue directly with Mr. Harper as to whether his government had any interest whatsoever in lending direct support to our municipal partners," McGuinty told reporters later.

"It would be fair to say that he is not particularly receptive to that approach."
...
But sources say the Prime Minister emphasized in the meeting that he had "no plans to transfer tax to another level of government" and noted municipalities are creatures of the province – not a federal responsibility.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall during that meeting...

The even more colourful and no nonsense talk on the issue emanated from Hazel McCallion, once again:
McCallion told the Star after hearing what Harper said to McGuinty that she expects other mayors across the country to take up her crusade and take it to the people – especially if there is a federal election next year.

"The citizens have a choice," said McCallion, mayor since 1978 and one of Canada's most popular and influential civic leaders. "They can press the federal government or they pick up the tab on their property taxes. They can't sit back and do nothing."
That's a pretty powerful message which could effectively undo the tax cutting halo the Conservatives are attempting to wrap around themselves. They seem to be blinded by their pseudo-Republican fantasies in which they fancy themselves as the tax cutting Republicans saving Canada from tax and spend Liberals. Wrong country though, fellas. And wrong story line.

More from Hazel, just for fun:
McCallion said she's not surprised Harper and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty aren't listening to cities given that the former Ontario Conservative government – of which Flaherty was a part – downloaded social housing, ambulance and other costs on municipalities.

"We got shafted. You think he's going to change his colours when he gets to Ottawa? We've got a fight on our hands," she said.
Good for her.