Wednesday, November 21, 2007

McGuinty vs. Van Loan

Gotta love the dynamic shaping up as a public battle takes place over fixing the appropriate number of seats per province based on population trends. Lawyer Van Loan's resorted to name calling against the just re-elected to a firm majority and popular Premier McGuinty. And the Premier's sounding eminently reasonable as he makes his case along the high road:
McGuinty dismissed Van Loan's comments earlier Wednesday, and vowed not to be bullied by Ottawa into backing down from his demand that Ontario be treated the same as the other provinces.

He said Ontario should get 21 more seats in Parliament, not just 10.

"Why is it whenever we Ontarians stand up for ourselves we're accused of being un-Canadian," he said.

"That dog won't hunt. We won't be bullied or cowed into submission. We're talking here about an issue of fundamental fairness."

Ontario would get one MP for every 115,000 residents under the proposed changes, but McGuinty said all provinces should be on what he called "the Quebec standard" - one MP for every 105,000 people.

"B.C. is now going to grow to that standard, Alberta is now going to grow to that standard, but Ontario will be left with an injustice . . . and will stick out like a sore thumb," said McGuinty.

"That's unfair, and there's no way to justify that."

Alberta will get five additional seats in Parliament under the proposed changes while B.C. will get seven more.

McGuinty said he was pleased that Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to address the problem, but complained that Ontario was still being shortchanged.

"The problem, of course, is that while he's determined to fix things entirely for B.C. and Alberta by giving them the appropriate number of seats, he's not prepared to do that for Ontario," said McGuinty.

"He's only going to provide us with a half-measure."
Sounds like a statesman to me. Making a very reasonable argument. McGuinty's come a long way in his time as Premier and has grown into a respected figure on the provincial scene. The federal Conservatives seem to be too highly influenced, perhaps, from those within their ranks - Flaherty, Baird, Clement - who knew the McGuinty of old.

Van Loan, by contrast, looks to be floundering:
"Our legislation is going to give them more new seats than any other province, and what did (McGuinty) do? He complained about it," Van Loan told Parliament.

"That's what I mean when I talk about the small man of Confederation: more seats, more for his province, and he complains."
Van Loan said McGuinty should be pleased that Ontario would get 10 more seats under the Conservatives' bill because if there were no changes to the formula, Ontario would get only four additional members of Parliament.
But, but, but...he's getting 10 seats, what's his problem? Once again, the take it or leave it approach to federalism for provinces not deemed Conservative-growth-worthy. You can bet this kind of language would never be hurled toward Jean Charest or Ed Stelmach.

And the Ontario Liberal government, unappreciative of Van Loan's remark, are stepping up their work on behalf of the Ontario people, pointing out now that the feds are $100 million behind on payments for a fund set up to settle new immigrants.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Chan said the Conservatives were over $100 million behind on payments, which go to agencies that help new immigrants settle in Ontario, not to the provincial government.

"This is funding the federal government promised to provide directly to newcomer agencies to province the settlement and language training services that are vital to helping newcomers find work in Ontario," said Chan.

About 125,000 new immigrants arrive in Ontario every year, about half of all newcomers to Canada.

Go ahead and mess with McGuinty a little more. They need a battle with a popular provincial premier like a hole in the head...