What does “strong federalism” mean?
For some ...central planners like Dion and Andrew Coyne (and especially the late PET) it means lots of tax revenues and the power that goes with it flowing to Ottawa for the non-directly elected PMO to decide who gets what.
For others .. true conservatives, “strong federalism” means recognizing that the big budgetary items are Health and Education. This would mean getting Ottawa out of the way and letting the Provinces compete for the best practices on those files. Then let a mobile population flow to where the best social/economic trends are. For those that keep wondering where conservatism is at these days, the answer is… decentralization and respect for personal freedom and provincial jurisdictions.
Chantal Hebert is on track with this.
I’ve always been suspicious of Chantal’s motivations. But maybe I should just get over it and move on, because she seems to be buying into reality and not the PET vision that was used to create unity threats in Canada. Here she is endorsing Harper’s idea: “New cost-shared programs in areas of provincial responsibility that would require the consent of the majority of provinces to proceed.
I really like Chantal’s comment that “the fact that past federal regimes have been able to spend their way into areas that are under the exclusive constitutional purview of the provinces is at the root of a fatal perversion of federalism”
I used to think that AC walked on water as a Conservative and that Chantal was a raving socialist. However the dividing line on federalism is coming down to this: "To be centralized or not".
These days I find myself siding more with Chantal than AC. That’s because she recognizes the value in competition among the Provinces for political solutions. AC still wants heavy control from the center and that will dampen competitive ideas. We are a big country with Quebecers as different from the ROC as the French are from the Brits. And we know how well that relationship has gone for the last 1200 years.