Wednesday August 27, 2014
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 27, 2014
Canada’s premiers running out of excuses for inaction: Hébert
Every summer the country’s premiers converge on some picturesque spot in Canada for their annual gathering.
Last year it was Niagara-on-the-Lake. This year it’s Prince Edward Island. The backdrop changes as do some of the characters but the script, for the most part, remains the same.
Year in and year out the premiers usually find one or more apples of discord with the federal government of the day to chew on.
Some years they are unanimously aggrieved over some action of their federal partner. Last summer it was Ottawa’s labour training scheme.
On other occasions it is perceived federal inaction — as in the case this year of infrastructure spending — that is in their sights.
Over the past decade Stephen Harper’s lack of interest for convening first ministers’ conferences has been a recurring theme.
This is not to say that some of the concerns raised by the premiers are not real.
Their grievances over the initial federal labour training reform were serious enough. The proposition stood to cause more systemic problems than it would have solved. And a united provincial front did go some way to bring the federal government to the table.
But it also seems that when the premiers spend time in the same room they conveniently forget that they are not, as a group, devoid of the power to do more than tear up their shirts in front of the cameras.
When repeatedly faced with what they collectively see as a federal leadership vacuum it apparently does not cross their minds to fill it with more than empty words. By all indications, thinking outside the federal-provincial box does not come easily to this generation of premiers.
It is not that they are not equal partners with the federal government in the federation but that they don’t often act like they are.
(Source: Toronto Star)