The province’s request of the country’s top court to reject an appeal made by Cape Breton Regional Municipality won’t necessarily stop CBRM from getting more equalization payments, Premier Darrell Dexter said Thursday.
The municipality filed an application to the Supreme Court of Canada in July to have its case for more federal cash heard, but a lawyer for the Justice Department filed a defence last week asking for that appeal to be dismissed.
“I don’t think it in any way inhibits or reflects on the ability of the province to continue to look at the question of equalization,” Dexter told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Halifax.
Dexter said it's simply a judicial process and the province had to file its defence “in accordance with the deadlines that were imposed through the process.” The province argues CBRM lacks a sufficient foundation to advance a constitutional claim.
CBRM Mayor John Morgan said the municipality plans to file a response this week, adding higher taxes and fewer services in the region compared to the Halifax area must be addressed.
“The region will continue to depopulate and cease to exist as an urban centre unless there (are) fundamental changes.”
The municipality argues the province has underfunded CBR by $20 million a year, dating back to municipal amalgamation in 1995.
"We ought not to be dependent on the courts to have our own provincial government treat us with fairness,” Morgan said, adding the province’s response is inconsistent with a principle of fairness Dexter endorsed during his election campaign this spring.
Dexter agreed Thursday “lawsuits are the last thing you want to do in terms of doing business,” adding “you want to treat each other responsibly.”
He also said he still believes municipalities should receive fair and equitable funding and that the province hopes to talk with its municipalities soon.
- with files from the Cape Breton Post