Dalton McGuinty blames the dog for eating his province – by Kelly McParland (National Post – February 28, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

It’s human nature to want to avoid admitting mistakes, and the bigger the mistake, presumably, the bigger the temptation to escape the blame.

Far easier to blame someone or something else, preferably some force beyond one’s control. I couldn’t do my homework because the dog ate my notes; sorry I missed the deadline but there’s a traffic jam on the highway; I remembered your birthday but the package didn’t arrive in time; I wouldn’t have ruined the economy but the dollar is too high.

That last humdinger was offered Monday by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in a bid to slough off responsibility for the economic mess now confronting the province he has led for the past eight years. Politely invited by Alberta’s Premier Alison Redford to lend support to her province’s effort to defend its oil industry — which has been a key reason Canada has avoided recession  — Mr. McGuinty responded with a churlish refusal. Instead he sought to explain away Ontario’s slow slide into debt and deficit as the result of a stronger currency.

Starting in 2003 — conveniently enough, the year he became premier — strong demand for Canadian energy began pushing up demand for the dollar, he said. That in turn made exports of Canadian products more expensive.

“What does that mean?” McGuinty asked. “It means that the high Canadian dollar — and it’s high because of the price of oil and gas in the West — is hurting the Ontario economy.” As a result, “If I had my preferences as to whether we had a rapidly growing oil and gas sector in the west, or a lower dollar benefiting Ontario, I can tell you where I stand — with a lower dollar.”

So there you go. In March Mr. McGuinty’s finance minister, Dwight Duncan, will bring down the ninth successive budget under a Liberal government, yet if we are to believe Mr. McGuinty it’s all been for nought, due to the strengthening of the dollar. In that time the provincial economy has fallen from among Canada’s strongest to one of its saddest: increasingly dependent on equalization payments and other handouts from the federal government, which Mr. Duncan now regularly complains are inadequate for his needs. Unemployment, at over 8%, rivals the U.S. and Britain. The deficit, now at $17 billion, could reach $30 billion in five years according to a recent analysis by economist Don Drummond. The debt, now at $250 billion, is spiralling with every year of added borrowing.

But, in Mr. McGuinty’s view, none of it is his fault. Nothing he could do. Blame Alberta for having an oil and gas industry. If not for that, Ontario might still have a manufacturing sector to be proud of, and the ability to continue lording its wealth over other, lesser provinces.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/28/dalton-mcguinty-blames-the-dog-for-eating-his-province/

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