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O’Leary says Atlantic provinces rely too heavily on transfer payments

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary.
Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary says the Atlantic provinces had better not get used to transfer payments if they don’t “get on board” with his plans to grow the economy.

O’Leary said the region relies too much on money Ottawa distributes to “have-not” provinces through equalization.

“What I’m not happy about is some of the leadership in Atlantic Canada is no longer interested in economic growth and only relying on equalization payments to make budgets. That’s incorrect,” he said in a telephone interview with The Guardian.

“Equalization payments are not a form of subsidy in perpetuity, that’s never going to happen anymore. Not when I’m prime minister.”

O’Leary will be in Prince Edward Island on March 22 as part of his ongoing campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

He says he is only making one campaign promise – to grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by three per cent.

If he wins the leadership, he plans to meet with the country’s premiers and find out how they will help him achieve this economic growth target.

And he will penalize provinces that do anything to “retard growth.”

O’Leary said the region relies too much on money Ottawa distributes to “have-not” provinces through equalization.

“What I’m not happy about is some of the leadership in Atlantic Canada is no longer interested in economic growth and only relying on equalization payments to make budgets. That’s incorrect,” he said in a telephone interview with The Guardian.

“Equalization payments are not a form of subsidy in perpetuity, that’s never going to happen anymore. Not when I’m prime minister.”

O’Leary will be in Prince Edward Island on March 22 as part of his ongoing campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

He says he is only making one campaign promise – to grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by three per cent.

If he wins the leadership, he plans to meet with the country’s premiers and find out how they will help him achieve this economic growth target.

And he will penalize provinces that do anything to “retard growth.”

For example, he says he will cut transfers to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia if they refuse to lift the moratorium on natural gas development.

“I’m not going to be doing transfer payments to support a lack of growth. It’s like providing a child with an allowance and assuming they’ll never get a job.”

He did not offer any specifics about how Prince Edward Island will be affected by this approach, except to say he wants to see all resource opportunities fully explored.

O’Leary took a few pointed shots at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, calling their leadership mediocre and incompetent and says he intends to be aggressive in “modifying their behaviour” if he ever becomes prime minister.

“I’m doing a tremendous amount of damage to their popularity in the polls. I can’t fire them – if they’d worked for me in a business I’d have fired them a long time ago – but I can make damn sure they don’t get a second mandate.”

When asked why Prince Edward Island Conservatives should choose him for leader, he said because he has the best chance of beating Justin Trudeau.

“It’s basically that simple,” O’Leary said.

“Canadians are tired of being BS’d by politicians, by being spun by politicians. They’ve had enough of it.”

 

Teresa.Wright@tc.tc

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

 

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