Milking the voters

“Canada is like an old cow. The West feeds it. Ontario and Quebec milk it. And you can well imagine what it’s doing to the Maritimes.” Attributed to Tommy Douglas.

That is more or less the case today. Ontario has its hand out for federal support for the automotive industry. Quebec is asking for further federal money to prop up Bombardier’s aerospace division.  And now Alberta wants the Feds to fund its resource industries.

While not unexpected, a little history will remind Canadians of the past.

Nortel Networks Corporation, formerly known as Northern Telecom Limited, Northern Electric and sometimes known simply as Nortel, was a multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in Montreal, Quebec in 1895. At its height, Nortel accounted for more than a third of the total valuation of all the companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), employing 94,500 people worldwide. (Wkipedia).

Over the years Nortel received all kinds of government support. It filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Bombardier operates in several industries and provinces. In aerospace, over the years it has received federal funding and is now asking for more. Its rail division is doing much better, but in the past it received funding for a high speed train which was mothballed and never brought into service. With a former federal auditor general on its board, hopefully someone will pay attention to the interest of taxpayers.

Government funding creates entitlements which once established for corporations or individuals are seldom removed. With three levels of government in Canada funded by one set of taxpayers,  the growth of entitlements presents a grim prospect for the future of democracy.

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