HALIFAX (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin appeared to take an oblique swipe at Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on Monday when he said "all great Ontario governments" have understood the need to help less-prosperous regions of the country. Martin was responding to criticism from McGuinty about an offshore royalties deal signed Monday between Ottawa and the governments of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
McGuinty complained last week of a $23-billion gap between what Ontario contributes to federal coffers and how much it receives in return.
But Martin, who travelled to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for the official signing of the offshore deals, said federal transfers to Ontario have increased almost 40 per cent in the last five or six years.
And he pointed out that Ontario will receive $2 billion this year and next in increased health transfers - or roughly 40 per cent of the total payout.
"This country is held together by the recognition that we are one nation," the prime minister told reporters after the signing ceremony in Halifax.