Stephen Harper Open Federalism

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Open Federalism: Harper’s Unlikely-to-Happen Addition to the History of Canadian Politics
1. Introduction
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is attempting to further decentralize Canadian government with, what he calls, open federalism. This essay will begin with a discourse on the evolution of Canadian federalism, then exclusively compare Harper’s approach to the proceeding Liberal governments approach, and ultimately explain why Stephen Harper’s “open federalism” methodology is the most controversial form of Canadian federalism yet.
2. The Origin of Canadian Federalism
2.1. The Confederation Settlement
The Confederation Settlement was inscribed in the British North America Act, 1867. The principle crafter of the document, Sir John A. Macdonald, “intended the new country be a highly centralized federation” (Dyck, 433), and thus the notion of Canadian federalism was birthed. The Founding Fathers modeled Canadian federalism from mercantile monarchy, Court Whigs, and from a renewal of counter-revolutionary transplant (Gagnon, 22 – 25). In February of 1865 at a debate in the Parliament of United Canada, the Fathers of Confederation proposed their model: “We have formed a scheme of government which united the advantages of both giving us the strength of a legislative union and the sectorial freedom of a federal union” (Parliamentary Debates, 32). The Confederation Settlement “consisted of five principal components: the division of powers between the central and provincial governments, the division of financial resources, federal controls imposed on the provinces, provincial representation in the central institutions, and certain cultural guarantees” (Dyck, 433).
2.2. Division of Powers
The Fathers of Confederation enlisted all residual p...

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