Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HIstory of federalism, Iggy, history of federalism

That Conservative line about Michael Ignatieff -- just passing through, not really at home here -- was cruelly effective during his brief sojourn in Canadian politics. And Ignatieff seems to want to go on confirming it.  The former would-be prime minister recently told BBC Scotland:
Effectively Quebec is master in their own house. They run their own immigration policy. They run their own natural-resources development policy . . . They run their own education and health-care systems. There is a loose degree of collaboration with the rest of Canada. The place where the union still holds together is in fiscal and monetary policy, they still take our dollar . . . But we’ve kept the show on the road essentially by giving Quebec mastery in their own house.”
Since 1867 the provinces -- all of them, not just Quebec -- have run their own education and health-care systems and their own natural resource development policies. The BNA Act also gave the provinces grounds for participating in immigration settlement issues.  The problems arise, more often, when the provinces are not "masters in their own houses" in these regards.


It's called federalism.  it's the basis on which the country was founded.  Hasn't Michael Ignatieff ever heard of it?


Now iI may be a legitimate concern, worth discussing by a student of nationalisms as Mr. Ignatieff is, that the post-Quiet Revolution settlement has seen Quebec and the rest of Canada gradually isolating themselves from each other culturally, ideologically, and politically to the point that a rupture becomes a practical and psychological possibility.  But such discussions need to grounded in reality, not hysteria. Starting out by presuming a repeal of the confederation settlement ain't useful.  Or rational.


Update, April 26:  I must be right.  'Cause Chantal H├ębert agrees.