In Saturday's Toronto Star there is an article that mentions the Liberals will likely have a deficit when provincial elections take place next year. The deficit total will be approximately $2.2 billion which is around $700 million more than previously thought. Part of the problem - but not completely - seems to be related to the thus far refusal of the Federal Conservative government to honour an agreement between the federal and provincial governments. And this is after having a $13.2 billion surplus from last year and supposedly looking at a surplus that is at least in the range of 4-5 billion for this year. Yet, the federal government is refusing to honour agreements, fund much needed programs, while cutting others and divulge itself of the money by placing it all against our debt. So why would the Conservatives, in spite of having access to large amounts of money, acting in such a manner? It's about ideology. I don't think it's any secret at this point that our Conservative government is very ideological and will do anything to push their own agenda. They:
- cut funding to Liberal social programs (7),
- are planning to readdress the SSM issue, despite the majority of the public being in favour of SSM and against reopening the issue (1);
- dropped the planned federal Day-Care program, despite their being a lack of spaces and high costs associated with available spaces (4);
- released an environmental program that doesn't do anything except set voluntary targets by 2020 and micro-manage symptoms (6); and
- against economic sense, cut 1% from the GST rate (5).
And they've done all this while accusing the media of having agendas against them and being one of the most closed-door governments in years; evidenced by punishing open members (2, 8) and muzzling bureaucrats (3).
So what does any of this have to do with the Ontario government facing a deficit... Anyone remember the unprecedented comments Harper made in favour of John Tory as the "next premier of Ontario"? Reneging on commitments made to Ontario, much like cutting the GST and underfunding/cutting needed social programs is about ideology and essentially trying to handcuff opponents. Harper is looking for ways to kill any method of future governments to fund social programs by slashing possible revenues and leaving them in a position where he (or whoever is running the Conservatives at the time) could corner them by claiming they are either going to be raising taxes to fund our programs when money is needed or they are pandering to interest groups. In other words, he's making decisions now with the goal of effecting the future. This isn't just being limited to the federal arena either. The decision to leave Ontario in a worse bind is more of the same. Harper is looking to give the Ontario PCs a target to attack - the deficit - and probably a boost by granting some acknowledgement when Tory goes on to say that he would be able to work with Harper on financial agreements. This is about Harper trying to influence a provincial election.
This Conservative government is brutally ideological and is willing to sacrifice the public good to meet it's own agenda, which is not supported by the majority of Canadians (winning an election through first-past-the-post is not a majority support, even less so when you're a minority government). If it were supported by the majority there wouldn't be the need to hide from the media, and muzzle its own members and public servants. This is a government that is intent on limiting the ability of future governments, probably knowing that the chances of it being them is extremely low, to make decisions regarding social policy.