From 15-16 December 2000, as part of the state visit to Canada of the President of the Russian Federation, the Forum of Federations organized a 2-day conference on ‘The Challenges of Federal Governance’. The event brought together Russian Ministers, Governors, officials and experts, and a similar group of Canadians. The participation of senior World Bank and OECD representatives, and of practitioners from Brazil and India, brought a multilateral perspective to the conference. The Russian delegation was said to be the most prominent group of Russians ever to attend an event in Canada.
Russian and Canadian participants confronted the stark differences between the conditions of government in the two federations. Even such things as the different number of constituents units lead inevitably to different mechanisms and techniques for intergovernmental relations and for conflict resolution.
The exchange of information lead to new readings of participants’ own systems of government. In particular, they were able to identify practical and valuable insights that they could take home with them. This was most evident in the areas of fiscal arrangements, mechanisms of harmonization and coordination of judicial instruments, the relationship with municipal governments, as well as the sharing of practical non-constitutional changes that were referred to under the general rubric of ‘functional federalism’. Overall, participants considered the roundtable to have been an effective forum for high-level practitioners to engage in rarely-held dialogue on the internal management of the respective federations.