Friday, October 07, 2005

Who Speaks For Canada

Richard Gwynn has a great article in the Star today about Martin's foreign policy today, where the role of Quebec in Canadian foreign policy will be discussed. Here's Gwynn's opening line:

No great political expertise is needed to guess that Prime Minister Paul Martin will respond to Quebec's demands for its own voice in foreign affairs with a firm, "No. Non."

A similarly minimal level of political knowledge will be enough to cause any observer to take for granted that Martin's eventual position on the Ottawa-Quebec negotiations on foreign affairs that began this week will be, "Yes. Oui."

5 Comments:

  • Whats the matter with this country that it can't tell the provinces to shut up when it comes to foreign relations?

    By Anonymous Don Mitchell, at 11:59 AM  

  • don - while I agree with you, I also have to ask what's the matter with a country when the provinces (legitimately) don't think their interests (anf therefore, those of their citizens) are being represented in the federal government's conduct of foreign relations? Granted, the feds have carriage of the foreign affairs file, but the provincial citizens whose interests are being ignored also happen to be federal citizens who pay the taxes that fund the federal government.

    Cheers,

    Dean

    By Blogger deaner, at 12:24 PM  

  • Foreign affairs- Federal jurisdiction
    Education- provincial jurisdiction

    The whole point of federation is to present one unified (and hence more powerful) front on external affairs, while regional governments deal with internal affairs. Having Quebec's foreign affairs interests taken care of seperately from those of the rest of the federation damages the federation's credibility and power, and Quebec has far less ability to maneuver successfully in Foreign Affairs than a larger entity like Canada.

    By Anonymous Jonathan W, at 1:53 PM  

  • Jonathan W - I agree with you completely, but I am less concerned with Quebec's need to represent themselves internationally (which I think is non-existant), than with BC and Alberta's need to protect themselves from an eastern-based federal government that has previously seen fit to ignore their concerns (softwood, BSE, transportation links, Pacific military preparedness, etc) in order to pander to its electoral base in Ontario and Quebec. As I see it, Quebec already has representation in foreign affairs (witness the BMD or Iraq participation decisions, both driven by a need to appease Quebec opinion). Quebec hardly needs a second voice, while the west has none.

    I appreciate that federations (may) have greater bargaining power than their constituent members - but I ask again, what is the point of a federation that deliberately targets one region to benefit another?

    Dean

    By Blogger deaner, at 2:12 PM  

  • Jonathon said: "Foreign affairs- Federal jurisdiction
    Education- provincial jurisdiction"

    Someone should tell the Feds to get the hell out of the education, health, child-care, and municipal funding areas then.

    The Feds take great enjoyment out of sticking their noses where it doesn't belong for nothing more then "political gain", so to can the provinces.

    Cheers,
    lance

    By Anonymous lance, at 2:13 PM  

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