Thursday, May 25, 2006

Birth Of A Nation?

Whenever the subject of division of powers comes up, Ralph Klein is always the first one to draw a line in the sand and rail against "federal incursions" into supposed provincial jurisdications. Well as far as my reading of the constitution, stuff like this is out of bounds:
parked in the middle of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit will symbolize all that is Alberta, but may also hint at a new breed of federalism, one where individual provinces pursue their own interests.

In late June, 150 ordinary Albertans will showcase Canada's booming province in the two-week Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Held annually, it is expected to attract more than a million visitors.

Alberta's participation marks the first time Canada has been featured in the 40-year history of the event. When the federal government turned down an invitation, Alberta took its place.

That's not a surprise, considering the lengths Alberta officials are going to make their presence felt in the U.S. capital. Alberta already has its own office in the Canadian embassy -- the only province to have such an arrangement...

The office aims to "protect, promote and position Alberta interests at the highest level," Mr. Smith said...

Professor Bothwell said Alberta's situation could set a dangerous precedent for other provinces. Ontario and Quebec could demand to have an equivalent place at the U.S. table, for instance.

"At that point, Canada would have to be banned as an international nuisance," he said.

"A visit to the Canadian ambassador would be like watching Snow White arrive with the seven dwarfs ... We'd just be an absolute laughingstock."

I don't want a situation where "individual provinces pursue their own interests" (with the partial exception of Quebec), as far as I'm concerned it is the role of the federal government to promote Canada. Alberta's interests are Canadian interests, so there is no conflict in allowing the feds to do the "promoting". Every province can claim to have unique characteristics, but so too can areas within a province, or by extension towns within an area- where do the distinctions end. Alberta is well within its right to pressure the federal government to promote Alberta, but it should be done so internally, while the feds remain the contact point.

One of the more hypocritical, have your cake and eat it too, issues that I can remember was when Klein found it necessary to tell Bush that Alberta supported the Iraq war, in defiance of the federal government. Klein goes crazy whenever Alberta is "threatened", but has no qualms jumping all over the constitution when it serves his purposes. The federal government makes those decisions and the constitution is quite clear on this point. I don't agree with an Albertan office in Washington, I think it weakens our federal system and sets up a pseudo state that confuses. I don't agree with a Alberta exposium that signals an independence. I don't see any reason why our current set-up can't address a provinces needs, especially when that province is Canada. The world gets smaller by the day, while ironically the country that serves as the quintessential example of internationalism and multi-faceted convergences slowly fades away through a tribal mentality.


Radical Centrist said...

From the article: "Alberta already has its own office in the Canadian embassy -- the only province to have such an arrangement..."

Maybe the only province to have that sort of arrangement, but not the only province to have its own foreign "missions". Quebec has several "Délégations générales du Québec" offices in various countries (Belgium, France, the UK, the US, Mexico, and Japan), as well as smaller "délégations" and even smaller "bureaux" (many of them immigration offices) in a whole bunch of other countries.

Steve V said...

I'm okay with Quebec having its own missions, because the circumstance is unique and certainly not applicable to Alberta.