The federal Equalization program has always been a misnomer in Canada. To be accurate, it should be called the Some Are More Equal than Others (SAMEO) program, at least for Quebec and the Maritimes.
That truth was bolstered Monday when it was revealed that the province of Quebec — which ran a $3 billion budget surplus last fiscal year — will be getting an extra $1.4 billion from the federal government next year for a total of $13.1 billion!
Meanwhile, Alberta, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country and is running an $8-billion deficit, just keeps getting kicked when it’s down.
And those kicks hurt even more since they are consistently delivered right after Alberta picked up the others’ tabs for champagne and filet mignon, while it sipped on a Diet Coke and nibbled on the free bread.
Last week, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs revealed that he talked to Quebec Premier Francois Legault regarding an attempt to revive discussions about TransCanada’s Energy East, which would ship Alberta bitumen to New Brunswick for upgrading.
“Alberta has been feeding our kids for a long time with the royalties, with the money that has come from oil,” Higgs said, acknowledging that his province’s budget derives 30 per cent of its budget from equalization payments.
Somehow, just getting acknowledged by Higgs takes some of the sting out.
But Legault’s comments represent a nest of angry wasps. “There is no social acceptability for a pipeline that would pass through Quebec territory,” said Legault.