Monday, July 23, 2007

Federal-Provincial law

A well-worn Canadian joke is that whatever the pressing issue under discussion, in the final analysis it always comes down to whether the matter falls under provincial or federal jurisdiction.

We've seen more than a few local legal cases predicted on the idea that NL has jurisdiction, always had jurisdiction, should have jurisdiction or never gave up jurisdiction over this or that.

Some have argued about the jurisdiction of fly-over rights (a complete non-starter) while others have made a fine career over making these jurisdictional arguments in fisheries cases.

As with issues of these kinds, the reality is complex, subtle and evolving. For a taste of that, check out a brief overview of the issue at Thoughts from the Western Edge which concludes:
All to often in recent years we have heard assertions of territorial absolutism coming from various provincial governments that oppose ideas of national health care standards, national environmental laws and national securities laws (for example).

This government sees a small federal government that has to be held in close check if the the autonomous provinces are not to be allowed to fulfill their destinies.

These cases are a ringing rejection of that idea. Instead we see a Canada where the two levels of government co-exist and can be allowed to work together in a wide range of areas to develop both local and national objectives as a nation and not merely as a loose collection of principalities looking to the federal government as a bandit charged with the dirty work of robbing from one set of provinces to give to another set.

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