The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 December 2004

Something to Like About Canada

One faulty assumption American liberals and conservatives alike are making these days is in assuming that all Canadians think alike and agree with their federal government's policies. The real story is that Canada, perhaps more than any western nation, is sharply divided along regional lines. In many parts of the country there is little love for Ottawa.

Often the examples of this come from BC and Alberta, but today it's from Newfoundland, where Premier Danny Williams has had it with tyranny from the feds:

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. (CP) - Canada's most recognized symbol - the red-and-white Maple Leaf flag - disappeared from provincial buildings in Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday, under orders from a premier enraged with Ottawa over failed offshore oil revenue talks.

Canadian Press Photo

"They're slapping us in the face. They're insulting us. I'm not willing to fly that flag any more in the province," a feisty Danny Williams told a news conference in St. John's.

"You know our country, Canada, is about a partnership . . . but when the senior partner in that relationship turns its back on you, then we feel it's most appropriate that that flag not fly in our province."

Prime Minister Paul Martin called the action disrespectful.

"The Maple Leaf is the flag of all Canadians, including every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian. It should not be treated as a tool for partisan politics," Martin said in a release.

The order to take the flags down indefinitely came one day after Williams broke off talks with federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in Winnipeg. The negotiations involving both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were aimed at nailing down a final deal to rework the way offshore oil revenues are shared between the federal and provincial governments.

Federal officials said the latest offer would see Ottawa end its practice of clawing back about 70 cents of every dollar of oil and gas revenues through reduced equalization payments.

Officials said the move would create about $3 billion in additional revenues for Newfoundland and about $640 million into Nova Scotia over the next eight years.

Williams turned it down, arguing the province would lose up to $1 billion when Newfoundland, no longer qualifying for equalization payments due to offshore oil royalty revenues, would gradually have its federal offset payments decreased.

The American media wants you to think all Canadians are in love with the ruling federal establishment and its policies, but it isn't so. Premier Williams has seen his popularity in the province soar since taking this hard line with Ottawa and Prime Minister Paul Martin.


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