It's no secret that Stephen Harper hates government. For almost a decade, he has worked maniacally to reduce the size and the scope of the federal government. At the same time, he has steadfastly refused to meet with the premiers. Somewhere along the line, he forgot that Canada is a federation. And, in the end, he may well have spawned a reaction he didn't foresee.
Christopher Waddell writes
that the NDP victory in Alberta may point the way to a massive shift in how Canada is governed:
So, in reality, the NDP Alberta victory has created an unprecedented situation at a time when the federal government has vacated the field of policy-making. Whether it is in energy, health care, environment and climate change, social services, transportation, infrastructure or pensions (just to name a few), the field is virtually wide open for the three provinces to implement joint policies that can completely undermine or counter whatever the federal government may want to do.
Together, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec collectively are the home of 73 per cent of Canada’s population, produce 74 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product, are responsible for 71 per cent of Canada’s energy exports, 70 per cent of all Canada’s merchandise exports and about 80 per cent of our imports by dollar value.
If the three provinces decide they want to do something together on economic policy, taxation, social policy or anything else, either the rest of the country jumps on board or is left behind.
Quebec and Ontario have already signaled their intention to establish a cap and trade system:
A broader collective effort by the three on climate change could both make progress on the issue and soften both opposition to the pipeline and some of the damage done by the Harper government’s reputation on climate change.
Equally valuable could be the development of a national energy strategy that looks at what we produce, what we export and how we sell it, designed to ensure all three provinces maximize their returns, particularly in the US market. If Alberta, Ontario and Quebec started down this path, how long would it be before British Columbia and Newfoundland jumped on board, again despite Ottawa’s unwillingness to participate?
If the Harper government continues to block attempts to improve the Canada Pension Plan, the three provinces could respond with their own supplementary system much as Ontario is starting to do.
Not happy with the new prostitution law, mandatory minimum sentences or other changes in the Harper government’s pandering to the “tough on crime” crowd? Collectively the provinces could take the federal government to court to overturn laws they believe are detrimental to the administration of justice and the criminal justice system. On past performance, the federal government is a consistent loser whenever it is challenged this way.
Mr. Harper believes that the world is organized from the top down. Canadians could be staging a coup -- from the bottom up.