Thursday, July 31, 2008

Harper's Agenda In Plain Sight

There is no hidden agenda, it is all there for people to see. Harper's vision for Canada can be summarized as:
1. A strict provincialist interpretation of sections 91 and 92 (a very, very, narrow interpretation of the reserved power provision of section 91) of the 1867 Constitution Act.

2. A federal government concerned mainly with foreign policy, the military, the economic union and law enforcement (for the most part the criminal code).

3. The creation of an even more lose confederation of 13 semi-independent states in charge of all aspects of social policy (except when the federal government interprets that policy as being in conflict with law enforcement as in "safe injection sites") and economic policy (except when it crosses a provincial border).
So, anyone who is looking for a "national" policy on something such as daycare, for example is not going to get one in the Harper vision of Canada. If Prince Edward Island wants to raise the money for a provincial daycare scheme, that's fine. But under Harper's vision, there will be no "national" scheme, because according to Harper, that falls outside of his realm of responsibility.

This vision stands on its head, Canada as it has been governed since at least the end of World War II. I am sure it will sell among Albertans who like Section 92a (1) of the 1867 Constitution Act and want 92a (3) ignored and Bleus in Quebec who like the money rolling in from Ottawa, but otherwise.... Those are the easy sells. How Harper's vision of a "small Canada" internally and a "big Canada" militarily plays in places like Ontario, non-bleu Quebecois, BC and the Maritime Provinces, will determine whether the Canada we grew up with still exists in ten years. No matter what happens, no one can say that Harper is hiding anything, it is all laid out for everyone. All you have to do is listen to the man and his ministers.
Recommend this Post


  1. Did you see this story?

    I found it through Mark's blog.

    Honestly, if the provinces are to be "autonomous" why bother with a country or a federal government?

  2. I absolutely hate it when supposed "conservatives" justify their provincialism from the BNA Act or, worse, the supposed intent of the Fathers of Confederation. Never mind that MacDonald for one had in mind a unitary state, and that the standard reading of Sections 91-92 favour the feds, apart from several times that Section 92 was interpreted more "provincially" by the Law Lords, Canada was "intended" to be utterly decentralized, curiously in just the ways that Reformites and Bloquistes prefer. How coincidental!

    If Harper was a strict constitutionalist (a claim oft repeated in the credulous media), he would be disallowing all manner of provincial legislation and telling the Lt-Governors to reserve everything else. Parliament has the constitutional authority to lord over the provinces, particularly those that it itself created, namely Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. (For that matter, neither Quebec nor Ontario existed pre-July 1867!)

  3. That's how it sounds, doesn't it? Provincial autonomy means fewer national standards, which puts this initiative in line with other items in the Harper agenda--nuclear regulations, elections guidelines, and, more recently, conservative attacks on Statistics Canada for its crime numbers. What's next--weights and measures?

  4. Statistics Canada for its crime numbers. What's next--weights and measures?

    Didn't you know Ace, numbers have a liberal bias?