Oct. 25, 2019

It may be time to discuss a new federalism formula

Many will recall the slogan – “The West wants in.” That appears to have transformed into “The West wants out.”

That’s an arguable interpretation of the federal election where most Canadians rejected the Eastern establishment in no uncertain terms. The Liberals did not get a single seat in oil-rich Alberta and Saskatchewan which have been victimized by the power brokers over resources and (carbon) taxation.

Not quite so obvious is the subtle regionalization of our country. Indigenous people have been demanding nationhood for ages, and have been slowly getting just that. On election night the resurgent Bloc Quebecois leader kept referring to the Quebec Nation. Now there are not-so-subtle similar stirrings in the West.

The present scenario revives memories of former B.C. Premier W. A. C. Bennett who envisioned in the 1960s that Canada could become a collective of five regions – representing separate entities like B.C. The Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. He said they would be basically independent, but all under a new federalism roof. If memory serves, Bennett suggested a senate of equal representation from each of the regions, i.e. 10 or 20 senators from each, making a federal government of 50 or 100 representatives.

Though the idea never reached first base, with Ontario and Quebec not even entertaining equal power sharing with the rest of the country. Under that formula, the three other regions could have out-voted them.

That general concept with First Nations, The West, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as participants might resurface, especially at this time when three of those regions are looking for a new deal.

There are a lot of intracasies to consider, but it may be something that is worth revisting. It would be much cleaner than the ongoing cries for the convoluted proportional representation – in fact it would be more proportional than what we have now.

Comment – editor@nanaimonet.com