Federalism

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Department
Political Science
Course
POL214Y1
Professor
D.Pond
Semester
Summer

Description
Federalism Why does a federal state require a written constitution?  In a federal state a constitutional document is needed, to specify the responsibilities assigned to each level of government.  So a federal state must be a state with a written constitution. The division of powers between two levels of government is interstate federalism.  The BNA Act assigned Ottawa most of the powers which in the 19th century were deemed to be nation-wide matters, crucial for the federal government to control if it was to preside over nation-building.  The provinces, in contrast, were assigned matters which in the context of the 19th century, were regarded as merely of local or provincial interest. And the provinces got responsibility for education—a key demand of Quebec.  Some other matters, such as agriculture and immigration, were shared between the two levels. Old age pensions were added in mid-20th century.  The Canadian political system combines British-style parliamentary government with U.S.-style federalism. Why did Canadian federalism become decentralized, despite intentions of the Fathers of Confederation:  There are many reasons for this. One is that the provinces deliver the social programs that Canadians today consider an important function of government, such as health care. Another is that the provinces have access to lucrative sources of taxation.  Powers of taxation  Impact of judicial decisions Shared-Cost Programs:  Social programs require federal financing for provincially run programs with national standards  They implement liberal welfare state liberalism  50:50 dollars  Both Ottawa & the provinces can complain about how these affect them  Shared-cost programs committed Ottawa to covering 50% of the cost of important social programs, regardless of their cost. These programs reflected the liberal welfare-state ideology.  However, in the 1970s, when the Trudeau government was running substantial deficits, it introduced the EPF, a new formula for financing health care and post-secondary education. Under EPF, the federal contribution was no longer automatically 50:50. This marked the beginning of a period when Ottawa began to withdraw from active national leadership in the liberal welfare-state. Highlights of the Federalism Lecture The Canadian federation today is a lot more decentralized than the Fathers of Confederation intended. There are many reasons for this. One is that the provinces deliver the social programs that Canadians today consider an important function of government, such as health care. Another is that the provinces have access to lucrative sources of taxation. The JCPC tended to favour the provinces at the expense of the federal leve
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