by Margret Kopala
Letter to the editor published by The Ottawa Citizen, Sunday December 13, 1998.
We’d be spared much grief if centralists and decentralists would get out of the "who gets how much" mode of thinking and return to first principles. In terms of the social union, this means first determining the areas in which the principle of equality of Canadian citizenship apply; then assessing what tax revenues and tax base or bases are required to support that equality. Finally, it must be determined which level of government should raise the revenues and which should spend them (i.e. deliver the services) and whether they should be the same, as well as why and why instruments would be necessary to implement that determination.
Right now, the federal government raises the revenues and the provinces spend them. Little wonder, then, that the country is locked in perpetual intergovernmental dog and cat fights. The federal government has better things to do than collect and deliver the cash, even if it means going back to the beginning. And the beginning, in this case, is equality of citizenship.