Is it even worth keeping track of them anymore?
Is PM reneging on Ontario deal?
Good question. Let's find out.
A year ago, Premier Dalton McGuinty and then-prime minister Paul Martin signed a deal that was supposed to bring an additional $7 billion in federal funding to Ontario.
OK, that's setting the stage. Enter PM Stephen Harper:
In January, during the federal election campaign, Stephen Harper wrote a letter to McGuinty pledging to uphold the deal if he became prime minister.
"We will be fully funding this agreement," Harper said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the Star.
Harper helpfully attached to the letter a spreadsheet setting out the details of the funding agreement, adding up to $7 billion over six years.
Looking good, right? Especially that spreadsheet thing. Uh oh ... hold everything ...
Now it appears the Harper government is reneging.
Really? How? I mean, there was a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet, I tell you.
Ontario was counting on the money to help convert coal-fired power plants to natural gas, to expand public transit, to augment funding for universities and community colleges, and to bring the province up to the same level as the rest of the country in federal spending on immigration settlement and job training programs.
In a letter last week to Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty repeats Harper's assurances that the Conservative government "is committed to delivering on the financial commitments" in the McGuinty-Martin deal.
I don't see a problem here ... ah, here we go:
But the rest of Flaherty's letter is densely ambiguous and suggests some of the funding is contingent on "discussions with all provinces and territories on restoring fiscal balance in Canada." (Harper's January letter contained no such qualification.)
Ooooooh ... that's not good. But ... but ... we had a spreadsheet, remember?
The spreadsheet attached to Flaherty's letter does not remotely resemble Harper's. Flaherty's firm numbers add up to just $4 billion. The remainder (almost $3 billion) is consigned to a column ambiguously entitled, "further amounts allocated," with a footnote that says "pending the outcome of discussions." As well, the $4 billion includes almost $1 billion in tax credits from Flaherty's budget last week.
Refresh my memory -- does something like this fall under "openness", "accountability" or "transparency"?