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A better way to fix Canada Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2005

But let’s not stop there. Imagine a Canada with…

A constitutional restriction on federal taxation and spending

This past spring, to shore up its tenuous parliamentary minority, the Martin government hiked federal program spending by 15% -- the largest one-year increase in thirty years.

Business groups lamented that the difficult spending reforms of the previous decade had been wiped out overnight.

Almost all of this spending increase went toward federal intrusion into provincial constitutional responsibilities.

For example, the Martin government is creating a new role for itself in urban development and early child care. Both jurisdictions are exclusively provincial according to the Constitution.

And they should be. It’s not that Ottawa can do miraculous things for Canadian cities and Canadian parents they couldn’t do better for themselves if Ottawa reduced its taxes.

A gaping hole in our Constitution lets them do it. There is no restriction on how a federal government may spend money, or how much it may tax. Ottawa’s “spending power” lets it force its way into non-federal jurisdictions like health, gaining the political credit without taking political responsibility.

We need a constitutional amendment which confines federal taxation and spending to federal areas of jurisdiction -- such as defence, immigration, penitentiaries, foreign affairs and Indian Affairs.

If federal politicians were constitutionally prevented from distracting themselves with provincial concerns like health care, welfare, job creation, education and culture, both levels of government would be more accountable and do a better job.

 
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