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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian federalism : a major constraint on the development of national transportation policy : lessons from changes to the Crow Rat Ropertz, Henry


Canada is a confederation comprised of eleven governments, one federal and ten provincial. This Canadian style of federalism is relatively unique in important aspects. The provinces have considerable power compared to the federal government and increasingly exercise that power to influence federal policies. For example, each provincial government has control over the resource base of its economy. Situations such as this pose special handicaps to effective national government. This thesis examines those features of Canadian federalism and analyzes how the structure of federalism and changes taking place in the structure militates against the development of national policies, such as transportation which are necessary to sustain the economic union of Canada. The thesis analyzes the development of national transportation policy within the framework of the changing structure of federalism. The focus is a comprehensive analysis of the federal government's policy to change the Crow Rate. The analysis undertaken is a longitudinal study of the Crow Rate over a ten-year period with emphasis on the period between 1980-1983. To substantiate the arguments, particular attention was paid to the mechanisms by which federal-provincial conflicts are managed. Included as part of the analysis was a time-series review of the personal working papers of Jean-Luc Pepin, Minister of Transport, 1980-1983. An impact matrix was compiled to show how different sectors and interest groups were affected by Crow Rate change and how these differences influenced public opinion. An "Inside-Outside Access Model" was introduced to describe a somewhat unique approach for Canada that was taken to reach a conclusion on Crow Rate reform, given the existing constraints. The major contribution of the thesis is that it demonstrates the ways in which the combination of federalism and interest group action constrain changes in national policy. The intensity of opposition may well be primarily rooted in the economic interests and the traditions of important groups in society, but the existence of a Canadian type of federal system gives those groups an additional level of government that can be mobilized to defend their interests. Moreover, provincial governments often reinforce the fears of the population and interest groups, provide strategic leadership for their protests and bestow legitimacy on the resistance to change. A coalition of powerful interest groups and their provincial governments is a potent force affecting national policymaking, even in areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction such as the Crow Rate.

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