And the Voice of Reason is...
Yes, believe it or not, contrary to the Herald's front page story, Ralph Klein is not going to plunge into the billion dollar re-election cash giveaway. Although virtually every single province in Canada has demanded a side deal from Mr. Desperate, Klein is actually refusing to cook the books and create a fictitious "imbalance".
CALGARY (CP) - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says his province isn't about to go cap in hand to Ottawa and join the lineup of provinces scrambling for deals with a federal government struggling to retain power.
"We're not being shortchanged in any way, shape or form," Klein told reporters Friday.
Klein went on to comment on the current situation:
'There's no perceived shortfall," Klein said. "The only perception is being created by some people who have an interest in creating a perceived shortfall."
In recent months, the federal government has been negotiating side deals with individual provinces, including a deal for $5.75 billion with Ontario struck last weekend. Pacts with Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nova Scotia, were signed earlier this year.
Klein said Ontario pays for several services that should be covered by the federal government and that's what Ottawa has agreed to cover.
Now, I should point out that there's no way Alberta would ever get any more cash. It would be insulting to ask considering how rich the province is right now. Plus, they'd never get a side deal because there aren't enough swing seats in the province to make it worth anyone's while.
But still, Ralph could have scored some cheap political hits against the federal government and he chose not to. This is the first time I've ever said something nice about Ralph on this blog and, although it pains me to say it, it bears repeating: Ralph Klein has become the voice of reason among Canada's Premiers and their headwaiter.
Welcome to the twilight zone.