University of Toronto
2 min

Abdicating federal responsibility – again

It’s just a week and a half before Parliament resumes, and I can barely wait. These past couple of quiet weeks are starting to make me anxious…

Giving me pause was the big Canadian Premiers-American Governors love-in in Washington this past weekend. While this was apparently one big group hug supposed to usher in a new era of cross-border cooperation, I am forced to ask where the federal government is in all of this. I mean, are they not supposed to set our foreign policy and deal with foreign governments on behalf of the provinces? And does this outright encouragement of turning these kinds of matters over to provincial governments not signal a problem in the federation, that this federal government is abdicating their constitutional responsibilities? Yes, relationships between these provinces and states are important, but they are sub-national governments, we cannot forget. It makes me nervous when the federal government starts turning more responsibilities over to provinces because it’s this kind of decentralization that fits in with this government’s ideological hatred of central government (slightly ironic, considering their penchant for governing from the centralized power of the PMO).

With more attention being paid to public sector pensions and the likelihood that the government may start to raid them in an empty gesture at balancing the books, the pensions of several of those original Reform Party MPs – who rode into office on a populist wave of outrage at the fat cats in Ottawa – are set to mature into very handsome benefits. Not that I necessarily begrudge them – public service is a thankless job and the stress of it is probably taking years off their lives, so they do deserve some recompense. Nevertheless, it is amusing to remind ourselves of the high-mindedness of those early Reform MPs who sought to clean up Ottawa (though their real lasting legacy is the era of nastiness they left us with).

Oh, look – women’s equality in Canada has stalled or regressed since Harper came to power. But hey, he’s going to push for maternal and child health in the developing world as his commitment to the rights of women.

Picking up on comments made by Lucien Bouchard, Michael Ignatieff writes an open letter to Quebec to encourage them to engage with his party’s dream of a more just, innovative and energy-efficient Canada.

Up today – After holding a roundtable in Mississauga on Friday, Michael Ignatieff is holding another one on the future of rural and urban Atlantic Canada in Moncton today.
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