Harper managed to slip in some real poison pills to shaft those who gave him a hard time. Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams is one but Quebec is also angry at the changes to equalization in the budget as well. Harper is going to try to get extra seats and support in Ontario rather than bother much with Quebec it would seem. He has already written off Newfoundland and Labrador it would seem.
Williams decries attempt to ‘shaft' Newfoundland
Globe and Mail Update
January 28, 2009 at 4:25 PM EST
The federal budget is a deliberate attempt to “shaft” Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Danny Williams said Wednesday as he called for the Liberals to insist on an amendment protecting the province.
His government says that equalization changes in the budget would cost his province approximately $1.5-billion over the next three years, undermining their short-term financial picture.
“We've had a very hard hit, when you do this on a per-capita basis this is huge,” Mr. Williams said Wednesday.
“It's a sizable hit and, you know, that's a hit that we can't afford to take and didn't expect to take and our projections for the next three years were certainly not based on taking that kind of hit.”
Newfoundland and Labrador has recently become a so-called “have” province, meaning it does not receive equalization. But changes to the equalization formula still affect the payments it receives under the 1985 Atlantic Accord, which sets the rules by which revenues from the province's offshore energy industry are split with Ottawa.
The province expected to receive $2.7-billion in such payments over the next three years. In fact, Mr. Williams said, they had accepted $65-million less last year to set themselves up for richer payments in the future. But under the new budget they expect to receive less than half the amount they had anticipated over the next three years.
The Premier, who has a famously combative relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had Tuesday evening urged Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to vote against the budget and assume power at the helm of the Liberal-NDP coalition.
“You can tell all along that this was a strategy,” he told a press conference Wednesday. “[The Tories] basically took the regulations, from the look of it, and said ‘how can we get the maximum shaft on Newfoundland and Labrador.' That's exactly what they did.”
Mr. Williams called the press conference within hours of Mr. Ignatieff indicating he would accept the budget, with conditions. The Premier said he took “comfort” in comments from the Liberal Leader about the budget's effect on the provinces but asked for further changes.
“If the budget is not amended or is amended in a manner that does not bring Newfoundland and Labrador back to the position it was in before this budget then I would be asking the Newfoundland and Labradorian MPs to vote solidly against it,” he said. “And I don't doubt for one minute that they would, I think that's basically why they were elected.”
There are no Conservative MPs in Newfoundland and Labrador for residents to lobby since Mr. Williams was successful in his drive last election to shut out the Tories in the province.
Mr. Williams said Wednesday that while the budget move appeared to be the result of malice toward the province on the part of the federal Tories, he had no regrets about the stand he had taken.
“You can never take principle too far. I would never regret that move,” he said. “But of course once that battle was fought and that war was won it was over. And we then attempted to move on and I showed lots of signs of doing that.”