Calgary Herald

Quebec separatism – The gift that keeps on taking
Calgary Herald

The purpose of Harper’s Quebec City trip was to announce a $50-million gift from the rest of the country to the Jean Lesage International Airport. Of course, that’s not how the prime minister described it. Instead, he noted Quebec City has done well under his Conservative government.

In contrast to Quebec City’s airport, between 1992 and 2009, Calgary’s airport authority spent almost $1.2 billion on capital projects. It was financed entirely out of local charges to passengers, airlines and airport shops. The federal contribution has been zero.

The federal-cash-for-Quebec-votes bribe is especially galling because it’s part of an entrenched pattern: Federal tax dollars are redistributed from the most productive parts of the country to provincial governments who have a sorry record on policy. Quebec’s recent blanket ban on « frac » drilling for natural gas in that province is only the latest example. If you’re a Quebec politician, why seek economic growth when the rest of Canada can ante up for the Quebec government’s follies?

Quebec’s equalization jackpot between 2005-06 and 2011-12 will total an estimated $50 billion. On top, add another $545 million for what the federal Finance department labels « total transfer protection. » In layman’s terms, it’s Ottawa’s way of guaranteeing the Quebec government won’t receive less equalization money next year as compared to 2011.

The eternal threat of Quebec separation, combined with obvious vote buying in la belle province: it’s the combination that keeps on taking from the rest of Canada.