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MLA Raj Sherman heads back into a filibuster debate on health care at the provincial legislature. (Jason Franson for The Globe and Mail)
MLA Raj Sherman heads back into a filibuster debate on health care at the provincial legislature. (Jason Franson for The Globe and Mail)

Did VIPs get special treatment at Alberta’s hospitals? Add to ...

Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we’re watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail’s team of political reporters

Why Ontario keeps losing money to other Canadians

A new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce chronicles the manifold ways Ontario taxpayers give more to the rest of the country than they receive, even though the province simply hasn’t got the money to pay for it any more. From employment insurance to equalization, from labour training to infrastructure, each year $12.3-billion flows out of the province, never to return.

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A Federal Agenda for Ontario calls for a new fiscal relationship between the province and Ottawa, one that keeps more of that money at home where it is badly needed.

The report is timely: the federal and provincial finance ministers meet Sunday.

- John Ibbitson in Ottawa

Fewer utilities = more savings

Ontario’s energy sector could save big by consolidating its many distribution companies, a government-appointed panel is set to report today. As Adam Radwanski explains, this will hit rural and small-town Ontario the hardest, making it a tough sell for the province’s politicians: the Liberals lack the political capital to make ambitious reforms, the NDP are unhappy with suggestions of privatization and the PCs won’t want to excite their rural base.

Did VIPs get special treatment at Alberta’s hospitals?

Alberta’s maligned inquiry into queue-jumping in the health system resumes today with the latest high-profile witness.

Raj Sherman – Liberal leader, emergency room doctor and one-time Progressive Conservative parliamentary assistant for health – is among the four witnesses scheduled to testify at the quasi-judicial inquiry. Dr. Sherman was identified in testimony last week by former Alberta Health Services chief executive officer Stephen Duckett as the foremost complainant when government-relations officials were removed from the health system. Dr. Sherman fired back by saying there’s a difference between MLAs seeking information, and MLAs jumping the queue.

The inquiry has been uneventful, and fruitless, so far. Opposition politicians say its terms of reference are too narrow, and witnesses have faced light questioning, and only brief cross-examination, while on the stand. If nothing comes up during the testimony of Dr. Sherman – an outspoken critic of the health system’s status quo – only faint hope will remain that the inquiry will prove worthwhile at a cost of $10-million. Other witnesses scheduled Thursday include Brigette McDonough, an employee of the now-defunct Capital Health Authority; Dr. Gordon Self, a vice president of a Catholic care provider called Covenant Health; and NDP Leader Brian Mason.

- Josh Wingrove in Edmonton

Union disclosure is good for unions, backbencher says

The backbench Tory whose union-disclosure bill was passed last night says it will give the public more trust in organized labour. The bill, now on its way to the Senate, will force unions to disclose more about where their money and time goes. In an interview, Russ Hiebert insists unions will benefit from being shown to spend their money “wisely and effectively.”

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