Meanwhile, Back on the Home (& Away) Front ...

Like some other Cdn political bloggers, I have been paying more attention to what has been going on south of the border.

But here's an interesting issue that may work its way onto the domestic agenda - even though it deals, in part, with "foreign affairs".

I'm one of those conservatives who believes that the federal government needs to focus on its areas of jurisdiction, and the provinces need to focus on theirs.

But here's a situation involving what the environment, which I understand is a shared area of jurisdiction. And Quebec wants the chance to express its views at an international forum, which appear to be at variance with Canada's.

How to square the circle? I think at the end of the day, Canada - i.e., the federal government - has to be the "one" to represent Canada's position at these sorts of events. However, it can and should take the views of provinces into account when the matter(s) under discussion are, pursuant to our Constitution, under shared jurisdiction. That goes even more so for matters that are under provincial jurisdiction. On the other hand, when dealing with matters that fall within the federal government's purview, the feds can certainly invite comments from the lower levels of government - but at the end of the day, the feds decide what the position will be.

What that means, in my opinion, is that the feds get to speak ... but depending on what's being discussed, they also have to listen. It can make things difficult to say the least, but that is part of the price we pay for living in a "federal", rather than unitary, system.

Now, I can anticipate at least some of the criticism of this approach: How will the feds ever sufficiently herd the provincial cats, when the item under discussion at the international event in question is a shared one, within Canada? That is a very good question, and I don't have a ready answer. But when the feds don't consult in those sort of situations, you get a result where "Canada" takes a "principled stand" at the international forum ... and then looks like a horse's rear end when it tries to impliment that stand, and the provinces don't go along.

Comments & suggestions are welcome!

More later.


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