Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How far will Harper go for electoral advantage?

There's likely to be outrage over this one: "Tories set to hand N.S. $850M windfall."
"The Conservative government is set to buy political peace in Nova Scotia with $850-million in taxpayers' dollars."
These funds are recommended settlement moneys from a panel of experts opining on how much Nova Scotia should get for having lost a potential ownership stake in offshore oil and gas projects.
The Crown share issue dates from the 1980s' National Energy Program and has been dormant for 20 years. Under the NEP, Nova Scotia gained a potential ownership stake in energy projects on Canadian lands off its shores. Successive governments have argued that when the NEP was dismantled in the mid-1980s, the Crown share went with it. But Nova Scotia has argued consistently that it should be compensated for loss of potential profits. (emphasis added)
In the wake of Harper messing with the Atlantic Accord last year, in order to save face with Nova Scotia, they agreed to throw in resolving this outstanding issue from the 1980's. This panel has now recommended that Nova Scotia get $850 million in compensation - for something that really was pie in the sky - and based on the Nova Scotia government's inflated numbers. Further, the 3 member panel couldn't decide on a number. One panellist went low, another went high, and the Chair picked $850 million, to metaphorically "cut the bike in half" (recall the Seinfeld episode? "Newman, you are wise...").

There is the potential for fallout, needless to say, throughout the country if Harper goes through with this recommendation:
While happy days are here again down East -- regional minister Peter MacKay has been gushing that "this is going to be great news for Nova Scotia" -- politicians in other provincial capitals are unlikely to be quite so ecstatic. "If I were another province, I'd be totally outraged. It will trigger other demands," said one source.
Speaking of total outrage, I wonder what Danny will have to say about this one.

Ivison suggests that given the prospect of an upcoming election will see Harper agree to follow this panel's poorly substantiated and weak-kneed recommendation, which at the end of the day, is all that it is. Once more, we'll see how far he's prepared to go to get his majority.