Experts share views on the importance of intergovernmental relations in the Canadian federation

Participants listen to a speaker at the Forum’s Global Dialogue Roundtable on intergovernmental relations in Canada in Montreal on February 27, 2009. From left to right: Eugénie Brouillet, Amy Nugent, Julie Simmons, Richard Simeon, Benoît Pelletier, Thomas Courchene, Peter Oliver.

Practitioners of federalism, political scientists and legal experts from all over Canada gathered in Montreal on February 27, 2009, for the Forum’s Global Dialogue roundtable on intergovernmental relations (IGR).

The event was co-ordinated by Marc-Antoine Adam, director of strategic planning in the Government of Québec’s Intergovernmental Affairs Department.

The discussions brought to the forefront the different views regarding IGR, especially those of the Aboriginals, the federal government and the provinces.

This plurality of opinions also emerged in the varying views expressed with regard to the degree of centralization of the Canadian federation.

The contrasting ideas of intergovernmental relations practitioners, the policy community and the general public were also discussed.

The more lively exchanges took place around issues related to asymmetrical federalism, a type of federalism in which constituent units (provinces, states), have different sets of rights and obligations; and the role of non-government organizations in intergovernmental relations.

Other issues that generated significant discussion were the increase in the relative importance of intergovernmental relations among the provinces and the impact of intergovernmental relations and fiscal federalism on policy innovation.

Concerns about political, constitutional, social and economic issues regarding intergovernmental relations in Canada were also raised throughout the day.

The roundtable was held on February 27, 2009 at the Hotel Lord Berri in Montreal, Canada. Participants included: George Anderson, President, Forum of Federations; Gerald Baier, Professor, University of British Columbia; Eugénie Brouillet, Professor, Université Laval; Charles-Emmanuel Côté, Professor Université Laval; Thomas Courchene, Professor, Queen’s University; Christopher Dunn, Professor, Memorial University; Roger Gibbins, President-CE, Canada West Foundation; Diane Gray, Deputy Minister of Finance, Federal-Provincial and International Relations and Trade, Government of Manitoba; Carolyn Johns, Professor, Ryerson University; June McCue, Professor, University of British Columbia; Matthew Mendelsohn, Founding Director of a new research centre on policies, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto; Alain Noël, Professor, Université de Montréal; Amy Nugent, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto; Peter Oliver, Professor, University of Ottawa; Ian Peach, Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; Benoît Pelletier, Professor, University of Ottawa; Andrew Petter, Professor, University of Victoria; Anne Racine, Advisor, Direction des affaires économiques, culturelles et sociales, SAIC Gouvernement du Québec; Leslie Seidle, Senior Researcher, Institute for Research on Public Policy; Richard Simeon, Professor, University of Toronto; Julie Simmons, Professor, Guelph University; and France St-Hilaire, Vice President Research, Institute for Research on Public Policy.

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