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Ontario Chamber of Commerce

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recently released a report that was entitled Fairness in Confederation. Fiscal Imbalance: Driving Ontario to "Have Not" Status which was then touted by Dalton McGuinty? as if it were true.

McGuinty had already argued that the gap between what Ontarians pay in taxes to the federal government and what they get back in programs and services has swelled to $23-billion from $2-billion in 1995. This does not of course take into account the degree to which Ontario's control over the banking, other financial, insurance, professional services, and so on, impact other provinces to the benefit of Ontario and their direct detriment.

The release of the report came just as there was growing unease in Ontario over the cash windfall Alberta is reaping from soaring world energy prices. But while government officials in Ontario would welcome a debate on the challenges Alberta's overflowing coffers pose for Confederation, they claimed to be leery of sparking a potentially divisive debate:

Ontario officials say they have no formal action plan to pursue the matter. In fact, they are quietly hoping that someone else, namely Prime Minister Paul Martin, will raise a topic that would undoubtedly stir a backlash in Alberta.

"It would have the least effect if it came from Ontario," a senior government official was reported to have said. McGuinty was however willing to encourage inquiries into the matter in Alberta, and first raised the matter publicly this month during an impromptu exchange with reporters travelling with him by train for the premiers' annual gathering in Banff, Alta.



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