[Image captured 7:45pm June 27, 2006. Poll results not archived by the Free Press.]
Not to impugn the wisdom, received or otherwise, of those Free Press readers bold enough to venture an authority to their opinion on the question, but how can it be properly answered at all? Transfers of taxpayer wealth between municipal, provincial and federal jurisdictions, agencies and special interest clients are so pandemic, convoluted and underreported that specific monetary claims of fiscal imbalance by various governments cannot be substantiated by even a meticulous researcher and must only be taken at faith by the rest of us. So who's responding to this poll? There can be no meaning attached to the results. There may be, and probably are, some genuine grievances of fiscal imbalance, but one could no longer possibly tell the difference between those and self-serving claims by governments that cry foul when they cannot balance expenditures with revenues without raising taxes or running a deficit. It does not take a political scientist to understand that an elaborate ultra-Constitutional system of confusing jurisdictional and taxation responsibilites serve eventually the political interests of all levels of government involved. One can either scapegoat or download almost at will these days. So it is that the Ontario government, dedicated to its fiscal imbalance proposition, committed in its most recent budget to increase spending above and beyond higher-than-anticipated revenue increases in order to maintain the politically advantageous position of a deficit. Is it any wonder that London's Anne Marie DeCicco and other Canadian mayors are now pleading the same excuse for their own lack of spending restraint?
The media's continued attention to the subject of fiscal imbalance without any real scrutiny of the claims serves to absolve premiers and mayors of their own policies. The Free Press' blithe poll question meets the same absolutely minimum requirement of deliberation. For example, the Free Press could have easily posed to its readers these other non-questions, at the gain of no more insight or understanding than the one it did pose:
Do the provinces give enough money to Ottawa?
Does Ottawa give enough money to cities?
Do cities give enough money to the provinces?
Do the provinces give enough money to cities?
Doe cities give enough money to Ottawa?
The actual poll and the other ones I have suggested in reality boil down to the same question:
Does [insert level of government here] give enough money to me and my interests?
The question that is never asked, however, and should be is simply,
Haven't taxpayers given enough money to all these clowns?
It's bad enough when governments waste your money, it's worse when they play political games with it.
Also, see Paul McKeever's Financial Post article from January on "gap-osis" and a fair and simple solution to the problem. McKeever is the leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario.