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“… the $11 billion that Ontario sends to Ottawa each year and doesn’t
get back in federal transfer payments, and his government’s lack of investment
in northern Ontario’s massive resource opportunity, the Ring of Fire….
To be fair, Wynne’s promise to invest $1 billion in the Ring of Fire
relies on matching funds from the feds, so it’s essentially meaningless.”
Liberal Kathleen Wynne says she’s the only Ontario leader who will fight the stingy federal government on behalf of Ontario. Who is Kathleen Wynne campaigning against, anyway?
The premier and Liberal leader has spent the past few days attacking Prime Minister Stephen Harper with such glee that you’d think he was her chief competitor in the provincial election.
The best part, for Wynne, is Harper’s response. Instead of ignoring her, as the nation’s leader should do with a pesky provincial politician, Harper and his staff keep firing back, which only fuels awareness of the big Liberal ideas that the federal Conservatives oppose.
With “Mom and Dad” squabbling, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak looks like he’s shut out of the adult conversation or, worse, is just parroting Big Daddy Harper.
It’s all very entertaining and, for the moment, it’s working for two reasons: the Prime Minister has apparently lost his steely self-control and at least one of Wynne’s proposals — an Ontario pension plan — has become a bread-and-butter issue that people actually care about. Nobody wants to be old and poor on the $12,000 a year Canada Pension Plan.
Harper should have moved to improve the federal pension plan when the premiers requested change last year. Instead, Wynne has decided to go it alone and, to the dismay of federal (and provincial) Tories, is getting traction with her proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.
Wynne is now capitalizing on the federal-provincial disagreements, saying only she, and not Hudak, can “stand up for Ontario.” Indeed, as the Star’s Robert Benzie reports, Wynne claimed that in a private meeting last December Harper “smirked” when he told her Canadians need to save more for their own retirement.
Just as the Liberals hoped, Harper’s official spokesperson issued a scathing email riposte, denying that the Prime Minister used any facial expression. “Presumably she made the comments… to distract from her mismanagement of the Ontario economy and the fact that she can’t run on her party’s record,” he sniffed.
Wynne bounced back from that taunt by releasing two admittedly unsexy but costly examples of Harper’s further neglect: the $11 billion that Ontario sends to Ottawa each year and doesn’t get back in federal transfer payments, and his government’s lack of investment in northern Ontario’s massive resource opportunity, the Ring of Fire.
As Wynne rightly points out, Harper poured money into Alberta’s oilsands but won’t offer up infrastructure funding to kick-start the Ontario project that could create thousands of jobs and boost the economy.
To be fair, Wynne’s promise to invest $1 billion in the Ring of Fire relies on matching funds from the feds, so it’s essentially meaningless. But still, she makes a good point.
It’s true that Ontario could use federal help after serving as Canada’s money machine for decades. And so far in this campaign, Wynne is the only leader holding Harper to account. At least as an enemy, he provides value.
For the original version of this editorial, click here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/05/08/kathleen_wynne_gets_good_value_in_her_fight_with_stephen_harper_editorial.html#