Today's discussion:

Does everything feel broken? Canada’s messy federalism is a big part of the problem

Subsidiarity is a good principle in the abstract, but a hard one to implement in practice. As a decentralized federation, Canada is grappling with the challenges of dispersed responsibilities. Happily, we seem to be correcting some of our missteps.

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The Hub Staff

“Part of the problem is our messy style of federalism often allows governments to pass the buck. Another is that subnational governments are often burdened with issues they don’t have the capacity to manage effectively—or, more perniciously, that they have no incentive to fix.”

This comment from Steve Lafleur calls attention to the need for charge to be taken; he outlines instances where rebalancing in government has occurred. What do you think about the points he makes?

12th December 2023 at 7:23 am
A. Chezzi

People look at history through rose coloured glasses too often. When has there been a picture perfect moment in Canadian history? We have always been beset by troubles, sometimes worse than others. People today talk about affordability. I remember in the 80s, interest rates soared through the roof and yet we survived. The market crash of 2008 was a real crisis but we survived because we had mechanisms in place to help us through. If we keep presenting the negative, we will be overcome by a self fulfilling prophecy. Yes, housing is in a crisis and there are many who cannot afford even the basic necessities but together, not with partisan shots, and simple sound bites, is the only way to solve the issue. When faced with crisis, we can capitulate of dig deep and find the resources to overcome and build a better world. Lets hope Canadians can dig.

12th December 2023 at 8:14 am
Richard Courtemanche

Feel? Mostly, everything crucial is broken. We are under the governance of an unstable, narcissistic, communist, totalitarian, dangerous, favoured mentee of the evil Schwab, with Freeland in waiting or perhaps the WEF’s primary tool.

Has the state of debt, the economy, the psyche, etc. of the nation been sabotaged to the point of being unrecoverable and ripe for the takeover of the NWO?

Why would any other political party want to deal with this mess? Does respectability still exist, or will corruption and greed persist?

12th December 2023 at 9:54 am
Michael F

It must be exhausting being that angry and delusional.

12th December 2023 at 11:09 am
Richard Courtemanche

Until there’s evidence to the contrary, the word is ‘realist’, Michael, and concerned. What’s delusional are Liberals supporters. Can you explain that logically? No, you can’t because it’s insane, unless…

12th December 2023 at 12:42 pm
Michael F

I am a proud small L liberal because I am a moderate, as most Canadians are. I believe in a compassionate form of capitalism with free markets that are and can be regulated to curb some of the excesses of this type of economy. I believe in a woman’s right to her reproductive choices. I also believe in equal rights for all people regardless of race, religion or gender. I also believe in climate change and that Canada has a role on the world stage to lead by example. That doesn’t sound insane to me at all. In fact it sounds to me like the important characteristics of a reasonable, compassionate human.

12th December 2023 at 1:01 pm

“As a decentralized federation, Canada is grappling with the challenges of dispersed responsibilities. Happily, we seem to be correcting some of our missteps. Decentralization done wrong can be worse than centralization. Principles are a good starting point, but we need to sweat the details.”

Sections 91 and 92 of our Constitution delineate exclusive federal and provincial powers, establishing clear boundaries for both levels of government, ensuring they live up to the ideals of “Peace, Order, and good Government.”

With respect to Steve Lafleur, the issue of our time is not “the challenge of dispersed responsibilities.” It is the Federal Government upsetting the delicate balance that those Constitutional provisions sought to address when they strayed over into areas of provincial jurisdiction they have no business being in. By going to court, some provinces have already moved to correct “some of our missteps” – the former seeking to bring back the balance that the latter has tried tilting in their favour.

The bottom line: Ottawa must respect the boundaries outlined in the Constitution. Otherwise, our fragile federation will indeed feel broken.

12th December 2023 at 9:10 am
Jon Snipper

Lafleur sort of hits then nail on the head. Probably the most severe problem is that the governments that are responsible on a practical level for bringing basic as well as non essential services to 85% of Canadians are municipalities, yet their taxing powers and legal jurisdictional reach is negligible, indeed are not found anywhere in our constitution. Only when there is a complete overhaul of our consititution, putting responsiblity and taxing power where they belong, ie most effective (in the author’s notion, closest to the ground) is there any real hope of fixing the mess that now to some degree plagues our country. Municipalities seem to be a lot less infected by party politics, which is usually a good thing. I could envisage a consititution that has the federal government playing a smaller role dealing with truly national concerns; the municipalities basically taking over the provincial responsiblities, with the provinces having a residual power where there are no real municipalities in existence sufficiently populous to bring the services needed.

12th December 2023 at 10:59 am
Kim Morton

In rural areas we have sort of the reverse problem. Our local government (regional district) is headquartered three towns down the highway. We also have a thing called Agricultural Land Reserve. Good idea,poorly implemented. We elected local representatives, however the sr management and much of the middle management are not even from Vancouver Island, much less the local area. Their ideology is much different than ours. The question we always have is why should I have to speak to an unelected official three towns down the road when I want to do something on my property?

12th December 2023 at 10:45 am
Bernie Langlois

I am a donor to the Hub
I am also hard of hearing
I would love to read the articles
or at least enjoy closed caption as I watch

12th December 2023 at 8:26 am
Rudyard Griffiths

Hi Bernie,

We do have text to voice and hopefully with some good speakers this could help you listen along.
Simply click on the audio player at the top of each article.
Thanks for donating to The Hub.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

12th December 2023 at 9:33 am

I am an elected official in the local municipal government. We feel we have more than enough work to do already. Added responsibilities would no be welcomed.

13th December 2023 at 2:13 am