Friday, March 09, 2007

Equalization Promise Not So Promising

If Sasketchewan Premier Lorne Calvert knew PM Harper was coming today he may have baked a wheat cake. Harper announced $1 billion worth of farm aid for Sasketchewan, but as Calvert said later on CTV news, the announcement was hastily arranged and members of his party did not know what was going to be announced. He was disappointed at the way this news was orchestrated, and said, Typically there is some discussion with farmers, and farm groups. He added that he had little detail of where the dollars were going to flow, and warned MPs were going to be held accountable if Harper's equalization promise was not kept.

At the press conference reporters asked Harper about equalization but he had little to say, except that the answer is coming soon. For weeks it's been bandied about that 50% of non-renewables would be removed from the new equalization formula. Sasketchewan has also made it known last year that there might be a political price to pay for reneging on that promise. In August, 2006, Saskatchewan Conservative caucus chair Brian Fitzpatrick wrote that it will cause no end of political difficulty in the next election.

The Sasketchewan Conservatives campaigned on the promise to exempt non-renewables, and they ended up with 12 out of 14 federal seats. It will be interesting to see if Harper has any other surprises in the budget on equalization, and if Danny and Lorne will really attempt to form an east-west political grid.

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