Sunday, November 21, 2010



Woe Canada, the land where rural voters have more clout than big city voters, where squeaky activists get the grease of millions, where the "have" provinces give and give and give to the "have- not" provinces, where you better move out of Toronto or Vancouver or Calgary or Edmonton if you lose your job and are looking for help.
There's nothing new or questionable in my first paragraph. I wish there were. I wish someone in Ottawa could deny that last year the unemployed of Ontario and the West received only half the benefits per person that the jobless got in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, that the notorious financial cuddling of Quebecers has ended, that the failed program of bilingualism was designed only to benefit francophones and not anglophones who were also fluent in French, that the flood of billions continues to Atlantic Canada no matter how flush they are with new resource discoveries.
Of course our federal pols also are capable of discriminating within a province as well as with ridings that weren't smart enough to have an MP in government. Consider the bizarre discrepancy between all the millions that went to Muskoka for the G20 meetings, where everything went swimmingly, and the trickle that came to Toronto, which doesn't vote Tory, and was turned into an armed camp by the over reaction of cops to the jerk activists.
But let's deal with billions rather than mere millions. I was sitting on the subway during the morning rush and I had more time than I wanted to examine a National Post story about the latest study into what it called "stealth equalization."
Nope, it wasn't another story about the baffling transfer of equalization payments between the feds and the provinces. The idea is that the "have-not" provinces don't have enough economic activity to generate enough revenue to deliver adequate public services to their residents. So they get help from Ottawa's tax revenue. Politicians have been squabbling over this for years.
But there's a new wrinkle in the figures, as far as I was concerned. If you study how many federal employees each province has for each 100,000 residents, you find that Manitoba and the Maritimes have far higher levels of federal employment than if those employees had been distributed proportionally in the country.
Ironically, that is true even though the capital is located in Ontario. So you would expect to find more federal employees in and around the capital. Yet Ontario last year had 1,742 federal employees per 100,000 population while Newfoundland had 1,823, P.E.I had 3,657, Nova Scotia had 3,219, New Brunswick had 2,655 and Manitoba had 2,619.
Provinces with fewer federal employees than Ontario were Quebec, (1,378) Saskatchewan, (1,210) B.C., (1,187) and Alberta, (936).
So we know all about the gush of equalization tax money that takes from the west to give to the east. But why, for example, would Manitoba have twice as many federal employes as its neighbour, Saskatchewan?
I know figures lie and liars figure. Yet this is compelling evidence that all the salaries and benefits that flow to these extra federal employees in five provinces from the federal treasury is an additional transfer of wealth from Canada's most productive provinces to those that have failed to be successful at supporting themselves.
Some time I think we should worry more about the West leaving than Quebec.

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