Right in the centre - Canada at the crossroads


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

This little list shows a fatal flaw in the Canadian tapestry. It shows the 2018-19 equalization payments that provinces receive, a long standing system that aims to bind Canada together. It’s tearing us apart!

NL - $0

British Columbia - $0

Alberta - $0

Saskatchewan - $0

PEI - $419,000,000

Nova Scotia - $1,933,000,000

New Brunswick - $1,874,000,000

Quebec - $11,732,000,000

Ontario - $963,000,000

Manitoba - $2,037,000,000

Equalization payments are intended to help provinces get through some tough times, drawing on the resources of “have” provinces to support “have-not” provinces. The problem is that the list of “have-not” provinces always seems to be the same list and to be on the receiving end and the “have” provinces giving.

For Canada, this list is a huge problem. The Maritimes get payments year after year. Quebec gets huge payments, year after year. Manitoba limps along, gathering payments year after year.

Six months ago, all this may not have meant much. Political life plodded along, without much thought about this obvious financial fracture in Canada. But all that changed on Monday night, as the election results rolled in.

Quebec said loud and clear that they want sovereignty, they want out of the Canadian federation. We all thought that separatism was dead, but au contraire, it is alive and well, flourishing in fact. The separatist Bloc Quebecois and the people of Quebec have told us, they want out. How will Quebec finance their $11.7 billion dollar deficit without holding hands with the “have” provinces? The BQ leader said on election night that sovereignty will have to wait. Of course it will, as he and his predecessors know very well, Quebec can’t survive without the annual gift from the “have” provinces.

Alberta and Saskatchewan voted almost exclusively Conservative in an almost total regional repudiation of the ruling Liberal party and its leader, Justin Trudeau. Considering those two contrasts leaves us all with a very divided country.

Quebec wants out. Letting Quebec have the desire of its heart would save the “have” provinces billions of dollars. With the continued repudiation of western values, desires and economic viability, Western Canada will obviously talk seriously about separation. The saving in taxes and not having to concede the resource stifling nonsense forced upon them by Quebec (and to a certain extent by the Maritimes) the West may well abandon their now ancient cry from the 1980s that “The West wants in”. They may well want out of a union where they are no longer wanted.

So where does this leave Manitoba? Over two billion last year in the equalization hole, Manitoba is far from being a “have” province. The Pallister government is making some baby steps in that direction, but without a major upswing in food production and processing, mining, forestry and manufacturing, Manitoba could have a hard time convincing the three western provinces to adopt us into the Western Canadian family.

If Manitoba doesn’t accelerate its development, we will get left behind economically, if not politically.

Monday’s election is enough to make me want to be a separatist, albeit an unwilling one. The shameful fact that Manitoba is still a “have-not” province spurs me on to encourage economic development. All Manitobans need to apply our natural resources, skills and human resources to get Manitoba to the point where we can proudly say we pay our own way. We won’t keep leaning on our western neighbours for handouts. And we won’t be part of the political blackmail that the Bloc Quebecois wants to force us into.

Manitoba will never have the political power to over balance eastern influences, but shame on us if we don’t grow up and get on the road to self-sufficiency.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.