Thursday, August 09, 2007

We Need A Federal Government

Whenever the Premiers meet, I am reminded why we need a federal government. McGuinty argues for cap and trade, Stelmach argues against cap and trade, Williams warns against moving too fast, Doer says we need to move now, advocates cap and trade, Campbell argues cap and trade and California emission standards, McGuinty not prepared to adopt California emissions standards, Calvert wants green highway, Charest argues that no Premier has the right to impose their will on another province...

It is simply counter-intuitive to expect men with such divergent concerns to come to a consensus. As a matter of fact, apart from wanting more money from Ottawa, there is about as much substance agreed as a neutered G8 meeting. Side deals, disjointed, piecemeal solutions, which leaves the landscape cluttered. Premiers have narrow interests, none of them really capable of any sacrifice that speaks to the "greater good", outside of their tribal concerns. That is the inherent nation of regionalism, and for anyone to assume "open" federalism can function with coherence is kidding themselves.

We need the federal government. Demonizing, easy target, scapegoating aside, if there is to be a national consiousness, a common purpose, a rowing together, then the only organ that speaks to those goals is the federal government. I favor continuity, with a respect or sensitivity for unique circumstances. Canada is drifting toward a tribal mentality (I recently learned that I am an "Ontarian", apparently a new human sub-species). These Premier meetings highlight the debating society that goes nowhere, apart from hodge-podge, patchwork resolutions, that have the impact of further regional divisions. The world is getting smaller, apparently, why is it then that Canada seems to be getting bigger and more distant?


Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can say that - Harper said the country's more united than it's been in 40 years.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I too agree we need a more centralized federal government, especially considering how the world is becoming a smaller place with technological advances, greater labour mobility etc. At the same time, when the federal government neglects to take responsibility, I am all for the provinces filling in the void.

Otherwise, it is preferable the federal government take leadership on climate change, but if they want to do nothing, then the provinces should fill in the void until they do take aciton.

What is ironic is historically the United States was more decentralized than Canada, but the two countries have moved in opposite directions. The United States is becoming more centralized while Canada is becoming more decentralized.

Steve V said...


I agree with you about "filling in the void", which is clearly the case on this file, so maybe not the best concrete example. My point is more an abstract one, through watching the Premiers and how they demonstrate no capacity to think outside of their jurisdiction. There needs to be an effective layer over that, but many times it is either a case of "don't tell me what to do" or lack of political courage.

Tom Christoffel said...

Steve - I will have a link to this post in the August 15 issue of Regional Community Development News. You can find it on my blog