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By Ronald Watts

As Canadians query the way forward for their federation and think about adjustments to it, there's a lot that may be discovered from federal structures in other places. at the present there are twenty-three federations on this planet (representing over 40 in line with cent of the world's inhabitants) comprising quite a few kinds and diversifications. during this examine, Ronald Watts presents a transparent research of the layout and operation of a pattern of federations selected for his or her relevance to Canadian matters.

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98 If Bill Bennett had a message for the rest of Canada, however, it lay less in any political remaking of the federation and more in the tough fiscal policies he would pursue after 1983. 99 Bill Vander Zalm favoured a radical restructuring of Confederation in a decentralizing direction: We’re talking about greater decentralization, we’re talking about a redistribution, we’re talking about a greater degree of accountability closer to the people. 100 Under the circumstances, there was little room in his thinking for the more federal side of the Canadian equation.

107 All this helps explain why British Columbia has not contributed in a fulsome manner to the debate about Canadian unity. There have been no federal prime ministers from BC who have ever held that office for more than a few months; nor have cabinet ministers from this province generally wielded the kind of clout that ministers from Quebec or Ontario have had. BC premiers have engaged in the debate about Canadian unity only on a sporadic basis, such as at federalprovincial conferences when the subject has been on the agenda.

In answering this question, I am tempted to draw on the reflections of Ernest Gellner, one of the more astute students of nationalism in our day. Regarding cultures, he writes: “Cultures are both tenacious and volatile. It is neither true that they are virtually immutable ... nor is it the case that they are ever reinvented, ever spurious in their pretence of continuity. ”117 As for the origins of a phenomenon such as nationalism, he notes facetiously: “My own view is that some nations possess genuine ancient navels, some have navels invented for them by their nationalist propaganda, and some are altogether navel-less.

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