In a world where federal states seem to exist precariously,politicians and academics from around the globe continue to look toCanada as a model of federalism. And yet, our own system oforganization and governance also appears strained: Quebec nationalism,First Nations' claims, the regionalization of party politics, andthe uneven and shifting delivery of essential services have all alteredthe face of federal politics. Federalism explains how Canadacame to be a federation (what reasons there were for it, and againstit, historically); what the challenges to federalism currently are; andhow we might fortify some areas of weakness in the federal system.
Jennifer Smith argues that federalism is part of the democraticproblem now; however, reformed, it can be part of the solution. Sincetheorists disagree on the democratic credentials of federalism, it isessential to look at how a real federal system operates. Smith examinesthe origins of Canadian federalism and its special features, thenanalyzes it in relation to the benchmarks of the Canadian DemocraticAudit project: responsiveness, inclusiveness, and participation.Finding that Canadian federalism falls short on each benchmark, sherecommends changes ranging from virtual regionalism to a Council of theFederation that includes Aboriginal representatives.
Democracy is about more than the House of Commons or elections. Itis also about federalism. This sparkling account of Canadian federalismis a must-read for students and scholars of Canadian politics,politicians and policymakers, and those who care about Canadiandemocracy.
Jennifer Smith is Professor and Department Chair ofPolitical Science at Dalhousie University.
Foreword Acknowledgments 1 Auditing Federalism in Canada 2 Federalism and Democracy 3 Canadian Federalism 4 Democratic Audit of Inclusiveness in the Federal System 5 Democratic Audit of Participation in the Federal System 6 Democratic Audit of Responsiveness in the Federal System 7 The Democratic Audit and Change in the Federal System 8 The Need for Change Discussion Questions Additional Reading Works Cited Index