In this our 150th year as a nation, some thoughts on Canadian federalism. We have ten provinces and three territories, and a strong central government in Ottawa.
A year ago, a majority of Canadians elected the Liberals because they promised meaningful change. They said they would be different from Stephen Harper and company. But when it comes to federalism, it’s beginning to look like the same old song.
Justin Trudeau went to Paris last December, taking several of the Premiers with him. He said Ottawa and the provinces would work together on a truly Canadian strategy to deal with climate change. Less than a week ago, everybody got together in Montreal to work on the strategy. In the middle of the meeting, the Prime Minister stands up in parliament and announces a fully-developed national carbon tax which will undoubtedly add to our cost of living.
Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, two of the energy producing provinces, walked out of the Montreal meeting at that point, and who can blame them. Alberta is the biggest oil producer, and NDP Premier Rachel Notley tried to be a bit more diplomatic. She said we’ll go along with the national carbon tax Justin, but how about getting a move on when it comes to approving pipelines like Energy East?
For many, it brought back memories of 1980, when another leader named Trudeau came up with the National Energy Program.
When Justin’s ministers, like Jim Carr and Marc Garneau, are asked questions in the Commons about how much the carbon tax will cost us at the gas pump, and on our heating bills, they choose to do a clumsy dance and not answer.
At the same time, Health Minister Jane Philpott, the fancy limo lady, is warning the provinces not to expect a new deal that will give them at least 6% more in federal transfers each year.
Ottawa has the power to behave this way, but if Trudeau chooses to continue on this path, it might not be much of a birthday bash next July.
I’m Roger Currie