Rae blasts ‘dic­ta­to­rial fed­er­al­ism’

Prov­inces must pay higher costs

Windsor Star - - CANADA - DEREK ABMA

In­terim Lib­eral leader Bob Rae crit­i­cized what he char­ac­ter­ized as the Harper gov­ern­ment’s non-col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach to fed­er­al­ism, which he said can be seen in its poli­cies on health care and crime.

Speak­ing Satur­day in Van- cou­ver, Rae said Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper has not con­sulted with prov­inces on things that af­fect them, such as its re­cent crime bill that in­creases jail time for many of­fences.

He also cited the gov­ern­ment’s re­cent ap­proach to health care, which was to uni­lat­er­ally de­cide that health trans­fer pay­ment in­creases be tied to eco­nomic growth and in­fla­tion af­ter 2016-17, at roughly four per cent a year, af­ter the cur­rent deal of six-per­cent hikes ex­pires.

Rae did not specif­i­cally criti- cize the pol­icy but the way in which the gov­ern­ment im­ple­mented it by sim­ply dic­tat­ing the fi­nan­cial terms but not con­tribut­ing ideas on how to re­form the health-care sys­tem.

“We used to have co-op­er­a­tive fed­er­al­ism, we used to have ex­ec­u­tive fed­er­al­ism,” Rae said. “We now have what I call dic­ta­to­rial fed­er­al­ism — ‘It’s my way or, too bad, you’re on your own.’”

Rae pointed out how the Tories did not con­sult the prov­inces on its re­cent crime bill, de­spite the fact that it will cost the prov­inces more money to run jails and build some as more peo­ple are in­car­cer­ated.

More re­cently, Harper sig­nalled in a speech from Davos, Switzer­land, the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to re­form­ing the public pen­sion sys­tem. It’s be­lieved this could in­volve rais­ing the age of el­i­gi­bil­ity for Old Age Se­cu­rity to 67 from 65.

Rae ar­gued that prov­inces would be forced to spend more dol­lars on wel­fare for many low-in­come se­niors who are dis­qual­i­fied from re­tire­ment un­til later in life.

ANDY CLARK/ Reuters Cana­dian fed­eral Lib­eral leader Bob Rae jokes with spec­ta­tors at the Lu­nar New Year Pa­rade in Van­cou­ver, on Sun­day. He is an­gry that the Tory gov­ern­ment is chang­ing health care and crime leg­is­la­tion with­out con­sult­ing the prov­inces.

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