04.14.2020 10:22 AM

All politics is local


  1. Peter says:

    Yes, and not just by their actions. The provinces are legally and constitutionally set up to take the lead on many things, which means they have the bureaucracies in place. They have responsibility for the administration of healthcare, hospitals, laws and regulations governing commercial establishments, employments laws, traffic laws, provincial and municipal police forces, the administration of the courts and municipalities. The Feds have international and inter-provincial trade and travel, the RCMP, food and drug approval and regulation, criminal law, the military and foreign affairs. Both have taxing, borrowing and spending powers.
    Surely it would be crazy to start demanding a centralized national effort. You can’t just turn everything around administratively on a dime. Plus it’s a very big country and the virus isn’t hitting regions equally. What makes sense for Toronto in terms of shutdowns may be an unnecessary hardship for Saskatchewan.

    • PK says:

      So it’s best, then, that strategies and response to pandemics are developed through a federal lead, with provincial counterparts managing their end, like happens with healthcare?

      • PK says:

        Most Canadians want, I bet, federal health care to do away with discrepancies in coverage between provinces, despite the Canada Health Act acting as the equalizer. They probably expect the same in terms of government response to pandemics – and specifically regarding issues like a pandemic, being a communicable disease, there has to be a pyramid to manage it because it spreads, like it has around the world, so you would likely be even better as part of an international response strategy. In hindsight, and I’m no expert, but it seems like in most natural disasters, the thing that goes wrong is coordination between different levels of government – so have a strategy in place it should just unfold when it has to. Problem is no country in the world, maybe some more than others, was prepared for this. If they had been prepared, they wouldn’t be ripping off masks at the airport.

        • Fred from BC says:

          “Most Canadians want, I bet, federal health care to do away with discrepancies in coverage between provinces, despite the Canada Health Act acting as the equalizer. ”

          It took an NDP government here in BC to first reduce by half, then totally eliminate my health care premium ($75 per month). It had always irritated me that I should be forced to pay money every month for the privilege of living in BC, especially when I knew that other provinces did not make such a charge.

          • Paige says:

            As one of the sharp intellects from BC, you must know your characterisation of MSP premiums verges on lying. MSP premium elimination was a policy plank of the CC Liberals. The NDP were merely lucky to be the governing coalition leaders when the policy was enacted.
            Actually this speaks to the overwhelming power of the bureaucracy to maintain implementation of a logical policy even with the change of government.

    • Chris Sigvaldason says:

      Nice in theory, but this is Canada. Look at the carbon tax chaos. The Feds wanted one but did not want to be the body that legislated it into being, so it coerced the provinces into doing its ‘dirty work.’

      The Feds want to direct health policy but cannot due to the constitution, so they construct bureaucratic monstrosities like the Canada Health Act.

      Look at any significant infrastructure project. It takes months and years of intra-government negociation and posturing to split the cost three ways (fed-prov-municipal) before anything gets done.

      Seems like everything Canadian governments do is hampered by bureaucratic and political over-reach. Except for Quebec, which gets its own way, more often than not.

  2. jsa says:

    i think ‘leadership and responsibility are local’ might be a bit closer to the truth. the federal level is still all about ‘politics’.

  3. Ron Benn says:

    One size fits all is as much a lie when it comes to governing geographically large, non-homogenous countries as it was to the fashion industry a few decades ago.

    When it comes to “solving” the challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus, one needs to ensure that the solutions address the issues presented by local populations.

    The density of downtown Toronto poses different challenges for social distancing than the relative sparseness of Prince Edward County. Toronto has more medical resources than Prince Edward County. Note that these two locations are but a couple of hours drive apart, and within the same province. Now think of Vancouver versus Cornerbrook. It is incomprehensible that a single approach would work in two very different communities – separated by about 5,000 kms, a significant stretch of salt water, not to mention the demographic profiles of the residents.

    Best to leave national issues to national governments, such as those identified by Peter in an earlier comment, and local issues to local governments.

    The main role of the federal government should be a centralized clearing house for medical research and findings, and financial resource allocation.

  4. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    The only thing that provinces are interested in from Ottawa are ever increasing health transfers but they quite necessarily must come with federal strings as regards a minimum common floor for healthcare and encouraging uniformity where that’s both essential and sound policy.

  5. Joseph says:

    Question of the day.

    Who is it that keeps telling us that health care is a federal job?

  6. William Morrison says:

    Here in BC we closely follow the daily briefings by Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, who has become something of a cult figure, and Adrian Dix, the Minister of Health. Their decisions are vital to the lives of everyone in the Province.

    Looking at Ottawa, what we see is the PM giving his morning briefings, which almost entirely consist of shovelling out enormous sums of money. This is important too, but not life and death.

    The important, life-affecting decisions are provincial, fortunately

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