Two’s Company

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B: Two’s Company, Three (Or More) Is A Crowd.

Adapted from the Original in the Toronto Star March 25, 1994

The first thing a new constitution will have to do is redesign the territorial jurisdictions in Canada. Now, it may be that a Citizens’ Assembly would conclude that the current territorial jurisdictions (provinces, territories, counties, regions, townships, districts, parishes, municipalities, etc.) are just dandy and should stay the way they are. But, if there is one thing about which almost all Canadians are agreed it is that the country has too much government from too many governments. Canada has too many layers of government – too many power centres fighting each other for jurisdiction, advantage and money rather than solving problems and serving people.

Canadians are beginning to realize how damaging it is to still be locked into a 130+ year old deal whereby colonial governments were “federally united”.

There is no desire among Canadians to give every provincial/ territorial government even more powers and to build 13 even larger intermediate, alternative governing establishments. A federation of semi autonomous sovereign realms, fighting each other and the national government, does not serve the people of Canada effectively nor does it reduce their taxes.

Canadians have noticed the ever increasing incompetence, venality, lack of sensible policy and failures of service from (all) their provincial governments. For several years, Decima Research has been asking Canadians what they think of the people who run their provincial governments. In 1980, 28% still had “a great deal of confidence” and 21% had “hardly any confidence” in their provincial governors. By 1994, only 6.6% had “a great deal of confidence” and 44% had “hardly any confidence” in them.

When a company needs fixing, business renovators usually reduce bloated middle management first.

The whole world is moving in two directions – toward globalization (more universal, broadly based standards), and, toward localization (putting the delivery of services to those standards in the hands of persons, families or local governments). The underlying theme is centralized global standards for outcomes and decentralized local control of process. Or, put another way, we’re moving toward a basic renovation of governance where national standards of public service are delivered by municipal governments and local people who know what is needed in their own communities. It’s national vision, standards, inspection and funding with local authority and responsibility for administration and delivery.

For years, in all the polls, commissions and surveys, most Canadians have declared they are Canadians first. They want a single national government of equal citizens, not a federation of intermediate governments, “nations” or “peoples”, equal or otherwise. Canadians want a national government for 30 million unique, distinct and equal citizens a national government that responds to them, not to alternative regimes that only divide, duplicate, obstruct and waste.

When Canadians get their hands on their own constitution they will redesign the country’s internal boundaries and create a centralized/decentralized, national/municipal structure that eliminates the provinces.

(Part B, section 1, continues for 14+ pages specifying reasons why provincial governments deserve to be eliminated. Section 2 continues for 20 pages describing a jurisdictional alternative for Canada.)

Extracted from Essay 3 (completed Nov. 1999), one of six essays in “Personalism v. Socialism”, pub. 2001

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