The Demise of Federalism

north-american-unionBy A. B. Thomas

Despite the failings of the Canadian Federal government in being able to be proactive, it still is seen globally as having a healthier grasp than the American government. Analysts are forecasting that the Canadian loonie will once again reach parity with the American dollar by the end of the year whereas the traditional spot for it is at least 15 to 20 cents behind. The reason? The forecast of a 50 billion dollar deficit represents a 3.3% size of the Canadian economy compared to the 175 trillion deficit of the American Federal government which represents 13% of its economy. Even with these numbers facing each of the governments, they not only have loaned a large amount of money they don’t have but have interests in two major automotive makers in order to keep that industry alive.

It can be assumed with reasonable certainty that the laid off oil sands worker in Fort MacMurray, the tobacco farmer in Kentucky to the unemployed receptionist in Portland are not looking at the Federal bail outs of the automotive industry in a positive manner. For that tobacco farmer whose livelihood is not only being destroyed by the economy but the militaristic actions of the anti-smoking lobbyists, are the federal governments giving billions of money they don’t have to save his industry? What of the oil rig worker? The ever increasing push on finding ‘greener’ energy sources, do the governments plan to throw money to keep that industry to their expectations to? Since the early 1980’s when Lee Iacocca came in to ‘save’ Chrysler, the Canadian and American automotive industry has been in trouble. People were buying the more economical imports. There was a clear trend towards these types of vehicles which the automotive industry refused to redirect their products towards. Both governments give the explanation that “they have every confidence in the automotive industry turning itself around” for their artificial inflation of the automotive companies. One must wonder how this would seem possible when a new car is last on the list for the majority of Canadians and Americans who are more concerned at the moment if they will have food on the table or a roof over their and families heads? If an industry cannot support itself and for over twenty years been engaging in activity contrary to what the public needs and wants are, why should it be given the public’s money? Is it then reasonable to assume that the Canadian and American federal governments that they now have, sufficiently blurred what are supposed to be clear lines between business and politics to the point of no return?

When businesses are failing they either change or dissolve – should not the Canadian and American public be looking at their respective federal governments and demanding that it should follow the rules of good economic policy? It is not based solely on the actions towards the automotive industry, but the nations as a whole where examples of mismanagement that would have folded many companies have been held up high as a tribute to the incompetence of the Federal system as it exists today. In the late 1980’s the Alberta government and the Native-Canadian Lubricon nation came to an agreement on Native self government that both parties felt were fair and left both sides feeling positive. The Canadian federal government negated this agreement because the renegotiation of treaties was the responsibility of the federal department of “Indian Affairs” and not the province’s. To date, there has been no movement towards any renegotiations with any band in Canada. In both countries, the unemployment regulations by the federal governments are causing many to be missed or considered ineligible because they do not qualify under the national standards. The problem with national standards is that they fail to be elastic enough to bend for the current conditions of the different provinces and states, thus putting more stress on those provinces and states welfare systems.

Where the federal governments fail the most in the wastage of public monies is the redundancy of programs. Is there really a need for a federal department of infrastructure, resources, fisheries, education, fish and wildlife; the list goes on; when each province or state has departments that handle these areas because each region is unique in the needs and requirements? How many billions are spent in these departments that are counter-productive to the individual provinces or states perception of need? Does a federal government that isn’t in that specific area have a right to superimpose its will over areas where it does not have a presence to feel the impact of its decisions?

An argument could be made that these redundancies are necessary in order to create national standards. The problem however is that the conditions of the lands that the federal governments and their powers and responsibilities were created in no longer exist. Gone are the days where messages could take days, weeks or months to get through. Gone are the days where borders were under constant attack. Gone are the days where there was more wild country than settled areas.

Each country has its strengths and its own weaknesses. Canada, for its strength, is wealthy in terms of natural resources. Its weaknesses are that, due to the lower population and consequently, less density in its critical hubs, in comparison to world populations, it does not have the military or human resources. Mexico has the strength of a populace that, with all due respect to the Canadian and American public, has a strong work ethic and see jobs as they have to be done and not what their education has brainwashed them into thinking is below them. The United States, strong in military might and population but is weak in the natural resources department. A decade ago it would have been harder to discuss this merging because of the differences in the social constructs, but today the recession has smeared the distinctions to what each government has delegated itself to be responsible for in terms of the public. Yet the federal governments continue to fail because the bureaucracy that they created for themselves has become a monster that cares not for what is occurring around it but in its own appetite.

Perhaps it is time to put away the egocentric titles of “Canada”, “Mexico” and “The United States of America” and face the fact these three countries are too large and diverse economically to be managed fairly and wisely by a singular federalist political body. It is still important that there be a strong political force but perhaps for North America, the model should be that of the European Economic Union where there is solidarity in the economic and ecological goals though with the leeway of employing methods and policies toward that goal at the discretion of independent states that are sensitive to the needs of their designated populace; creating a single political force by the name of the “North American Economic Union”. Maybe be it is time for people to stand up in stadiums and sing “To whatever you believe or not believe in bless or pardon the NAEU”.