National Post (Latest Edition)

ALBERTA CAN TELL YOU: CANADA DOESN’T WORK.

- Diane Francis Financial Post Read and sign up for Diane’s newsletter on America at dianefranc­is.substack.com.

In the last election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals got 6,018,728 votes, or a puny 33.12 per cent of the total, and the Tories got 6,239,227. Even so, Trudeau ended up with 157 seats and the Tories only 121. I analyzed the numbers in a piece I wrote last year in The Post which revealed the need for electoral reform.

This electoral injustice was due to gerrymande­ring which has given the poorest part of the country — everything east of the Quebec-ontario border — 14 more seats than it deserves, based on representa­tion by population. So, it shouldn’t surprise that the Liberals have leveraged their illegitima­te position by continuing the practice of sending money from the wealthiest provinces, through grants and equalizati­on payments, to their Liberal stronghold­s.

But the extent of this giveaway to Quebec and notably Atlantic Canada is greater than most people realize, according to a recent article in Halifax’s Chronicle Herald by David Mackinnon, a former civil servant in Nova Scotia and Ontario. He was born in P.E.I. and has been a senior fellow at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in Halifax.

He warns Atlantic Canadians that their “bubble” is about to burst because it is unsustaina­ble. This warning is timely considerin­g Alberta is about to hold a referendum demanding changes in equalizati­on transfers this fall. Confederat­ion’s other “sugar daddy” Ontario should do the same.

Mackinnon, however, points out that equalizati­on transfers are only a quarter of the money that the federal government has shovelled into Canada’s poorest provinces. “Regional subsidies to Atlantic Canada are much larger than is commonly assumed,” he writes.

“The scale of the problem is no longer in doubt thanks to the work of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and the Fraser Institute. Most Atlantic Canadians would be surprised to find that in recent years, the net annual transfer to each Atlantic Canadian from the pockets of other Canadians has been $6,400, or approximat­ely $25,000 for a family of four, each and every year.”

This has resulted in overbuildi­ng of infrastruc­ture, bloated provincial bureaucrac­ies, and excessive benefits to locals and their businesses. This giveaway has ruined Canada’s fiscal situation — the Atlantic Canada subsidy regime and subsidies to Quebec from 2007 to 2019 are major contributo­rs to Canada’s debt problems.

“A recent Fraser Institute study notes that the federal spending deficit in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces over this period was almost three times the size of the overall federal deficit over those years. The spending deficit in Atlantic Canada alone substantia­lly exceeds the overall federal deficit over those years,” Mackinnon wrote. “In other words, if federal revenues and expenditur­es in Atlantic Canada were balanced, the country would have had surpluses for many years and would have entered the present financial crisis in a much stronger position.”

Atlantic Canada underperfo­rms developed nations but its living standards are propped up by Ottawa. “A recent premier of Newfoundla­nd described his job as being to get into the pockets of other Canadians, via the federal government, as much as possible,” wrote Mackinnon.

This rotten system also explains why — despite the Liberals’ catastroph­ic tenure — they ride high in the polls at 38 per cent nationally. They have merely extended handouts to everyone by cranking up the printing presses to keep the economy going after their vaccine rollout failure has prevented it from being fully opened up, for months longer than necessary and for months to come.

So it shouldn’t surprise that recent polls in Atlantic Canada — with its Cadillac handouts — show the Liberals with a whopping 61 per cent polling support.

Obviously, Canada, as currently constitute­d, doesn’t work. The country’s illegitima­te electoral system is the root cause behind electing inept politician­s. And vote-buying by Ottawa and a looming fiscal crisis are the outcomes.

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