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Most Canadians remain true federalists, despite Ottawa’s tireless distortions Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 10 April 2006

We are told that Canada is fundamentally a union of “two founding nations,” French and English.

Ottawa has been hammering this into our heads since Pearson launched his Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission in 1963.

We’ve heard it so often we could recite it in our sleep.

So why don’t we believe it?

The federal Heritage Department commissioned a poll last August asking if people agreed or disagreed with the statement, "Canada is composed of 10 equal provinces, not two founding nations.”

After forty years of nonstop bilingual propaganda, you’d think “two nations” was a slam-dunk.
Instead, 56% chose “10 equal provinces,” and only 31% said “two founding nations.” The remaining 13% said neither.

The “10 equal provinces” response was particularly strong in the more successful provinces -- 63% in Ontario, 62% in B.C., and 60% in Alberta.

Yet even in Quebec, more people (43%) said “10 provinces” than said “two nations” (41%). Response in Saskatchewan and Manitoba was almost identical.

This shows that Canadians are first and foremost <ital>federalists<ital>. And not in the bogus Pearson-Trudeau sense of “two nations.”

That isn’t federalism at all, it’s just an excuse for centralizing power in Ottawa.

It has led to unworkable bilingualism, unworkable national medicare, a ridiculous national pension plan, cost-shared social programs that almost bankrupted us in the 1990s, and an unemployment insurance transfer that has reduced once-proud regions to indolence and beggary.

All these programs are socialist, based as they are on the delusion that with enough power Ottawa can somehow “create” jobs, prosperity and “fairness.”

Fiscal conservatives have always attacked national programs for being socialist, but with no great success. Most Canadians don’t seem to mind socialism.

But they have never been challenged for being centralist -- for violating the spirit and purpose of our federalist constitution -- something Canadians still support, according to this poll.

As the constitutional expert Albert Dicey famously put it long ago, citizens of a federation distinguish between union (which is good) and uniformity (which is not).

Provinces were originally given “exclusive power” over all these social and economic responsibilities, power which Ottawa has usurped to impose uniformity.

But it hasn’t worked and it’s coming back to haunt us.

Stephen Harper said two weekends ago on CBC that we need to find constitutional answers to things like the “fiscal imbalance” and Senate reform.

Quebec is demanding higher federal transfers of money from Alberta, and less federal interference in provincial spending.

Ontario business groups are demanding that Ottawa reduce transfers and vacate the social spending field entirely. Taxes are too high, and manufacturing is fleeing into Michigan and Ohio -- or China.

Alberta -- strangely -- is not demanding anything, even though it should be. Ottawa already transfers more out of the province than Alberta receives from its own resources.

Although the Canadian economy is expanding, the increase is being gobbled up by taxation. And government spending is surging again, provincially and federally. Deficits will not be far behind.

What’s missing is a clear federal vision of how Canada should work.
That’s why we at the Citizens Centre are hosting an event called the Calgary Congress on September 29 to October 1.

It’s to identify the reforms Canada needs to succeed as it once did, before misguided politicians like Pearson and Trudeau wrecked our system of responsible government.

To find out more about this event, visit or call our office at 866-666-6768.

- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.
"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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