Adrift in a sea of federalism

Richard Florida points out that the US has no long-term economic strategy.

Does Canada?

I imagine in both cases our federal structures are impediments to economic nation-building. States and provinces are protective of their constitutional powers and naturally they put their self-interest ahead of the nation’s.

In Canada, for example, Alberta charges ahead with oil production while Ontario struggles with deindustrialization. Yes, Alberta is the only thing keeping the Canadian economy’s final tally in the black, but it could also be speeding the collapse of manufacturing in Ontario.

It would be reassuring if the federal government had a long term-plan for Canada’s economy. Alberta and Saskatchewan are at the mercy of resource markets today, and will face water shortages in the future. Ontario, centred on Toronto, is ready for deindustrialization, but it will be painful for a lot of people if they are left out of the new economy. These kinds of issues are extremely important, and there is probably more the government can do to assure a prosperous future than to deal with the current market crises.

My fear is that the federal government is taking a short-term approach to our economic challenges, and letting the provinces lead will take the country in an unproductive direction.


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