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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Andrew Coyne: Maybe there is a reason why Stephen Harper seems leery of meeting with Kathleen Wynne

...You can see the premier’s dilemma. Here she is with a clear, focused agenda — described at various times in recent weeks as involving pensions, infrastructure funding, federal-provincial transfers, internal trade, a possible Chinese currency trading hub in Toronto, the Ring of Fire mining project, Employment Insurance, and violence against aboriginal women — and yet the prime minister refuses to meet in person with her. I know what you’re thinking: Why doesn’t she just pick up the phone and call him? But then how would she be able to tell if he was smirking?

That, you’ll recall, was the upshot of their last meeting, a year ago this week. The premier had demanded the prime minister sign on to her pet project of an expanded Canada Pension Plan, a proposal that would force a great many people of modest means who already have satisfactory pension arrangements to put aside money they can ill do without, in order to fix a problem affecting a small number of under-savers, mostly upper income — or, as in the case of her proposed provincial variant, to finance her as-yet-unfunded public works plans.
To which he allegedly “kind of smirked.” How do we know what went on in a private meeting? Because the premier blabbed it all over Ontario, that’s why, in the course of an election campaign that in its early days was heavily focused on attacking the federal government in general, and the prime minister in particular. The premier was bent on depicting her pension proposal, not as a forced saving plan, but as a benevolent gift of government — which obliged the prime minister to play the part of heartless smirker.
I can’t imagine why this breach of confidence-cum-personal attack would have made him leery of meeting with her...
The thought occurs that the premier seems less interested in actually meeting with the prime minister than in complaining about being unable to meet with him. It can’t be entirely coincidental that the worse the province’s finances have got, the louder the din has become, culminating in that stagey release of letters between them (private correspondence being about as confidential, it appears, as private meetings) in the same week as her finance minister was confessing — well, pretending otherwise, to be precise — that the province was nowhere near to balancing the budget or even meeting its own leisurely schedule for deficit reduction.
Perhaps the smart thing for the prime minister would be to meet with her, just to take away a squawking point. But you know what would happen. The week prior to the meeting would be taken up with media speculation over whether the prime minister would “deliver” on whatever preposterous demand the premier thought to bring with her that week: Lately it’s about shovelling more money at General Motors to “save” the jobs that were supposed to have been saved by the $10-billion bailout...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since we are obligated to care for retired individuals who failed as humans to save enough for themselves, it seems there is no other option but to prohibit this moral hazard by making people save against their will. On this, I agree with Kathleen Wynne because no Conservative has bothered to offer anything better.