A pro­gram that needs an over­haul

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

The mil­lions that the Feds are giv­ing to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are one of th­ese gov­ern­ment pro­grams that clearly show that fed­er­al­ism is dead in Canada. The feds have noth­ing to do in mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs; if they want to split the bounty of taxes, they only have to give money to the prov­inces. The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, after all, fall un­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the prov­inces. Read a cer­tain Pierre-El­liot Trudeau to get the ba­sic frame­work on how it’s sup­posed to be.

But that clear re­spon­si­bil­ity mag­i­cally fades away when a photo op is in the of­fer­ing.

The pro­gram, of­fi­cially a re­dis­tri­bu­tion of the gas tax, is a re­sponse to an On­tario prob­lem, namely the Water­ton wa­ter dis­as­ter. So mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must use the money first for wa­ter and sewer in­fras­truc­tures. A noble cause.

But it may well be that a town or vil­lage doesn’t have a wa­ter or sewer prob­lem and that the money could be well spent else­where. Be­lieve it or not, this ex­ists.

Worse are the con­di­tions at­tached to the money. No work can be done in-house, all must be con­tracted. Hello Char­bon­neau! Another wind­fall for the usual gang.

The fact is that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and our tax bills would ben­e­fit if some of that money could be spent hir­ing lo­cal work­ers, first and fore­most, our mu­nic­i­pal ones.

But there is a much larger is­sue with that so called wind­fall. Prov­inces and the ser­vices that they pro­vide are starv­ing while the feds can boast of sur­pluses. Our schools must cut ser­vices that give needy stu­dents a chance to break from the poverty cy­cle while Stephen Harper is cruis­ing to next year’s elec­tion as a mar­vel­lous ad­min­is­tra­tor able to cut taxes on top of all. Our health care sys­tem is crum­bling, one min­is­ter after another of­fer­ing a cure to a prob­lem that only more money can solve, and the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives are telling us how well the Cana­dian econ­omy is go­ing. This is ob­scene. To add in­sult to in­jury, the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion is flog­ging a na­tional day­care pro­gram! Well, it’s hard to stop the New Democrats from be­ing what they are, a cen­tral­ist gov­ern­ment. But day­care is a provin­cial pre­rog­a­tive; no­body can find a shred of ar­gu­ment to de­fend a role by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in that field. Thomas Mul­cair, who should know bet­ter, after all he was provin­cial min­is­ter once, must have found the mir­a­cle one.

So let’s re­joice: our re­gion is get­ting almost fifty mil­lion to spend in the next cou­ple of years while we wit­ness our whole in­fra­struc­ture re­ally go­ing down the drain.

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