In a world where federal states seem to exist precariously,
politicians and academics from around the globe continue to look to
Canada as a model of federalism. And yet, our own system of
organization and governance also appears strained: Quebec nationalism,
First Nations' claims, the regionalization of party politics, and
the uneven and shifting delivery of essential services have all altered
the face of federal politics. Federalism explains how Canada
came to be a federation (what reasons there were for it, and against
it, historically); what the challenges to federalism currently are; and
how we might fortify some areas of weakness in the federal system.
Jennifer Smith argues that federalism is part of the democratic
problem now; however, reformed, it can be part of the solution. Since
theorists disagree on the democratic credentials of federalism, it is
essential to look at how a real federal system operates. Smith examines
the origins of Canadian federalism and its special features, then
analyzes it in relation to the benchmarks of the Canadian Democratic
Audit project: responsiveness, inclusiveness, and participation.
Finding that Canadian federalism falls short on each benchmark, she
recommends changes ranging from virtual regionalism to a Council of the
Federation that includes Aboriginal representatives.
Democracy is about more than the House of Commons or elections. It
is also about federalism. This sparkling account of Canadian federalism
is a must-read for students and scholars of Canadian politics,
politicians and policymakers, and those who care about Canadian
Jennifer Smith is Professor and Department Chair of Political 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