Ottawa swimming in cash, affordable housing money stuck in politics

The Globe & Mail and Toronto Star each have different, equally important, lead stories – in their early editions at least.

It seems that, just in time for a spring (or sooner) election, Ottawa has accumulated an even higher budget surplus than anticipated (where have we heard that song before?). This from a government that swore it wouldn’t “low-ball” such budget projections like their Liberal predecessors.

Yet, and this is the Star’s big story, $400 million of federal money can’t be spent on affordable housing in Ontario because the McGuinty Liberals (seeing their fixed election date coming in a year) are holding out for more as part of their “fiscal imbalance” feud with the feds. I would bet my share of that money they’re playing a pre-election shell game, thinking that it is just a little too early to settle (although I’m guessing they will take whatever they can get when the time suits them).

And, given Ontario’s pattern of liking one party for Queen’s Park and another for Parliament Hill, this gives the Harpocrites time to attempt to shore up their sagging Quebec support and McGuinty’s crew will have some housing money to release just in time for maximum impact on October 4, 2007. It’s as if they were political allies.

After all, the Bloc is going to make or break – in the near-term – the minority government in Quebec ridings, on the fiscal imbalance question, and the Liberals will be happy to campaign with a new leader, even in January again. That all must be grating at Harper more than what he would see as a gift to Toronto’s ungrateful NDippers and Liberals.

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