05 February 2009

Changes to equalization done unilaterally

... and under the table. Or that's the way it appears.
The budget itself made no mention of the proposed amendments, leaving provincial officials, members of the opposition and journalists looking for answers. More than a week after the changes were announced, some spokesmen for the finance department deny any changes occurred, and academics who have spent their lives studying the subject are still unclear on the details.

While the changes themselves are still a subject for debate, the way they were introduced is being soundly condemned.

"If this is legitimate to do, we should have a discussion of this stuff," said Wade Locke, an economics professor at Memorial University and a leading expert on equalization. "You shouldn't have to have a legal degree to go through the minutiae of the budget implementation act to determine what has been done, and then have to have an economics degree in order to understand what it means for each province. There is something fundamentally wrong with that."

"I've never seen anything like it," [said Senator Lowell Murray]. "There's not a line about it in the budget, there's not a line about it in any of the budget documents, there's no communication, there's no letter from any minister here to any minister there."

More HarperCon underhandedness. Sneaking legislative changes under the radar. And the Liberals continue either to be asleep at the wheel or willing alternate drivers. The latter looks to be the case, given Michael Ignatieff's directive to Newfoundland and Labrador MPs to support the budget implementation, which is precisely where these changes are being made.

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