Co-operation Over Devolution

Blog, Role of Government, Peter McCaffrey

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith made headlines yesterday after suggesting on CTV’s question period that Alberta could work collaboratively with the newly elected Parti Québécois government in Quebec.

Smith’s suggestion that the provinces should work together on issues where they both oppose Ottawa has been met with confused, or even angry reactions by some.

But this kind of reaction belies a lack of understanding of limited government principles and the idea of devolution. The Parti Québécois want power devolved from Ottawa because they want more issues decided locally in Quebec. The Wildrose want power devolved from Ottawa for precisely the same reason – they want Albertans to have more control over what happens in Alberta.

If both parties agree that policies like Employment Insurance should be devolved to a more local level, why shouldn’t they work together?

Of course, the two parties would do very different things with those powers if they were given them, but that is how a federation of provinces is supposed to work. If we were happy to leave Ottawa to call all the shots, there wouldn’t be any point in having provinces at all!