Jim Flaherty came to Toronto yesterday and lambasted Ontario for its poor fiscal management:
“Frankly, Ontario’s spending mismanagement is a problem for the entire country,” he said. “They have no one to blame but themselves.”
That really was a bit rich. After all, Mr, Flaherty and Mr. Harper just increased Ontario's spending by downloading the costs of its Omnibus Crime Bill to the province. But the statement was particularly hypocritical, coming as it did, from the man who left Ontario with a $6 billion dollar deficit.
It's true that Bob Rae left a deficit of $12.4 billion. But Rae faced what was, up to that time, the worst recession since the Great Depression. Flaherty was Ontario's minister of finance during boom times -- when the Clinton and Chretien governments were raking up surpluses -- which Flaherty depleted in 18 months.
Consider the record: After slashing welfare payments, after eliminating an entire year of high school, after closing hospital beds and firing nurses -- Mike Harris said nurses had become as anachronistic as "hoola hoops" -- the best Jim Flaherty could manage was to leave the province $6 billion in the hole.
Jim has a penchant for saying absurd things. After Harris retired, and Flaherty ran for the leadership of his party, he suggested -- in all seriousness -- that homelessness should be made illegal in Ontario. Which simply proves that someone can emerge with a law degree from Osgoode Hall and still possess a warped sense of justice. Perhaps that accounts for why the Canada Revenue Agency will now police environmental groups for illegal contributions -- and why the rules governing environmental reviews will now be applied retroactively.
Dwight Duncan was right: "Penny wise and pound foolish. That's Jim." In fact, Duncan's comment was probably behind Flaherty's intemperance.