When the referee wasn't looking - Macleans.ca
 

When the referee wasn’t looking

With every action and inaction, Harper is changing Canada—and we’re not noticing


 

091021_top_wellsWhen the referee wasn't looking We’re all exhausted up here in Ottawa. We are so busy telling you whether there will be an election (Yes!) (No!) (SO EXCITING) that we sometimes don’t notice things. Sometimes the government doesn’t mind our not noticing, and it plays little tricks to encourage the not noticing. So on a Friday afternoon the government announced it was putting a question to the Supreme Court of Canada. Friday afternoons are an excellent time to say things if you don’t want them noticed. Yet it is such a rare thing for a government to put a question to the Supreme Court that some of us reported it this time, even though it had happened on a Friday afternoon. All the same, by Monday most of us had forgotten it had even happened, because we needed to spend more time wondering whether there will be an election (Yes!) (No!) (SO EXCITING).

The question the Harper government has put to the Supremes is whether the federal government has the power to establish a national securities regulator, a body for writing and enforcing the rules around transactions like stock trades. The question really is whether Canada will provide a single regulatory climate for investors, or a patchwork of different ones.

In the best courtroom manner, the Harper Conservatives are taking care to ask a question to which they already know the answer: of course Ottawa has the power to establish a national securities regulator. Lots of countries establish national securities regulators. Investors love them, because they only have to file paperwork once. Canada’s 1867 Constitution is pretty clear on the matter, allocating to Ottawa the right to regulate “trade and commerce.” But provincial premiers hate the idea of a national regulator, because each of them gets to run a provincial regulator with its own rules. When they aren’t jealously guarding their constitutional jurisdictions against federal intrusion, provincial premiers are always happy to intrude into federal jurisdictions. And premiers seem to like living in a country where investment across provincial borders is as complex and expensive as possible.

Or they used to. More and more provincial governments have begun to see things Ottawa’s way. And by “Ottawa’s,” I mean both the federal Conservatives and the federal Liberals, because the Chrétien and Martin governments used to make wistful noises about wanting to establish a national securities regime too. By now only Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec are resisting federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s project for a national regulator. Alberta politicians are fond of firewalls, it seems. Manitoba seems simply to be slow making up its mind (its finance minister, Greg Selinger, just replaced Gary Doer as the province’s premier). Quebec is a fantasyland, of course. Once the Supremes rule that federal jurisdiction is federal jurisdiction, Quebec and Alberta won’t have a leg to stand on. Even then the Harper government won’t force them to close their little local securities regulators down. Investors will take care of that by declining to invest in any jurisdiction that tries to snub the national regime. The feds don’t have to challenge provincial “rights.” They merely have to assert their own. The logic of a larger market will do the rest.

So in some ways this whole business is a foregone conclusion. But there’s still a lot at stake. The Supremes will find themselves tempted to draw some sweeping conclusion about the nature of federal responsibility for the economy, and the limits of provincial responsibility. These are thorny questions. Previous prime ministers were reluctant to tackle them, which is why Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney all declined to pick the fight with the recalcitrant provinces that Harper is now picking.

So one of the most interesting things about this whole business is that Harper persists. He’s happy if we don’t notice, which is why his government made its announcement on a Friday afternoon. The Prime Minister has always been comfortable doing his hardest playing in the corners where the referee isn’t looking.

The consummate failure of the opposition parties to sustain and deliver a coherent analysis of this government that rises above “He’s so mean” leaves Harper plenty of room to advance his agenda. With two projects, the securities regulator and the attempt to secure free trade with Europe, Harper is trying to strengthen the Canadian economic union. With a succession of other projects—his abandonment of state-run child care in favour of per-child cash benefits; his lack of interest in higher education; his eagerness to underwork his health minister and his intergovernmental affairs minister (go ahead, name either one)—he is weakening the social union. The Canada he is building, deliberately and with little scrutiny or real opposition, has a stronger national market and a weaker national vision. I’m sure he would defend that project eloquently if pressed. His opponents seem disinclined to press him.

One more thing. You can sure tell the difference between Harper when he wants something done and Harper when he doesn’t. Contrast the methodical advancement of the securities-regulator project with the Prime Minister’s monumental incuriosity on the treatment of Afghan detainees. A report on prisoner abuse bounced all over Ottawa but somehow never made it to the desk of any minister with power to do anything about the alleged abuse. A commission investigating the cases of abuse that did arise has been requesting documents from the Harper government, in vain, for over a year. With every action and every stubborn inaction, Stephen Harper continues to reshape this country. One day we’ll all look back and wonder how we missed it while it was happening.


 

When the referee wasn’t looking

  1. If Paul Wells thinks his vision of Canada is better than Stephen Harper's, why don't Paul Wells stop this Micheal Moore masquerade, take a chance and become a fricking politician.

  2. ''With two projects, the securities regulator and the attempt to secure free trade with Europe, Harper is trying to strengthen the Canadian economic union.'''

    I'd add a third – the (continued) harmonization of Canada's sales taxes.

  3. Kindly refer us to the passage where Wells is critical of Harper's agenda.

  4. One day we'll all look back and wonder how we missed it while it was happening.

    That wouldn't happen if you started paying attention to the people who are noticing.

  5. “The consummate failure of the opposition parties to sustain and deliver a coherent analysis of this government that rises above “He’s so mean” leaves Harper plenty of room to advance his agenda’

    At the risk of getting a slap for more media bashing, i find this statement – which you see a lot of around the quality journalists – odd. I’m not overwhelmed by Ignatieff or is performance so far. But give the man some credit, he has made a number of references/speeches to the fact that this govt has no national vision or if they do then it’s a bad one. What’s the general response? Oh that’s so 80ies! Find something new to say! The liberals are stuck in the past – as if there’s no possibility that some of those ideas from our past were good or worked at all. Ignatieff’s response – fall back on traditional opposition/ gutter politics, or worse imagine that aping Harper is somehow more authentic. Sometimes the media helps to create the narrative which they then conveniently turn around and scorn. Of course there is always the arguement that Ignatieff could set, or influence, the media narrative himself by offering clear alternatives…oh he’s done that…forget it then.’ He’s so mean’ Perhaps the media doth protest too much? Perhaps that’s just exactly what they do want to hear – that is until they don;t anymore.

    • Why do you bring this back to the Liberals? Wells didn't — this isn't about them. Liberals stuck in the past, whether true or not, has nothing to do with seeing harper as "mean" — which is how many Canadians see him, and why he can't get his coveted majority.

      But harper's personality and approach to opposition isn't about Liberals, kc. Try to separate.

    • Who really wants a national vision. Who wants the country defined according to the whims of one person. Didn't we get enough of that crap with Trudeau? Let the government manage the business of the government and let the people supply the vision according to what the people want.

      • 'Who really wants a national vision. Who wants the country defined according to the whims of one person"

        First off there undoubtably are people left in the this country who do want a national vision. I don't except your premise that Trudeau defined the country on his own, or pulled us in a particular direction without the consent of a majority of Canadians. Besides, even if i did except your point, are you now claiming that it's ok for one man [Harper] to define the country? Cus that would be a little inconsistent right!

      • And what I, as one of those people, want is a government with a national vision — of education, of healthcare, of poverty.

        Individual implementations I'm certainly willing to leave up to the provinces, but I strongly support the idea that to be Canadian on the east coast means the same overall as being Canadian on the west coast.

        • Agree. Many conservatives seem to reject even the notion of a national view of the country. As if this must be forcing some sort of uniformity on everyone. As you point out it's a canard or maybe a red herring. No one seems to consider anymore that premiiers are politicians too. Interested in building fiefdoms of their own. Power abhors a vacuum. If we simply keep on ceeding power federally than the premiiers will just naturally keep on taking it, whether they need it or not. There should be some tension and back and forth between the provinces and the feds. A sure sign we have gone too far will be the day we have completely happy premiiers and a silent federal govt.

  6. "TheCanada he is building, deliberately and with little scrutiny or real opposition, has a stronger national market and a weaker national vision. I'm sure he would defend that project eloquently if pressed. His opponents seem disinclined to press him".

    It is also possible that Harper has caught the zeitgeist – it's where Canadians want to be these days, and the opposition sense it as well as anyone? I certainly hope not – although i find it hard to fault measures taken to strengthen the national market – is it a given that this must also a weak national vision? Perhaps there's some fertile groung here for Ignatieff to occupy.

  7. This will probably be the dumbest question of the day, but doesn't a national securities regulator go against Harper's agenda of decreasing federal powers?

  8. Honestly I think that's the best question of the day.

  9. "The Canada he is building… a weaker national vision."

    How so?

  10. Paragraph 7, third and fourth sentences.

    Note: that's where, but I do not concur with C&A's assessment.

  11. You assume that Wells thinks it is a bad idea to weaken the social union. That is unfounded by this piece. For all we know, Mr. Wells is a big fan of a stronger national market and a weaker national vision.

  12. "With a succession of other projects—his abandonment of state-run child care in favour of per-child cash benefits; his lack of interest in higher education; his eagerness to underwork his health minister and his intergovernmental affairs minister (go ahead, name either one)—he is weakening the social union. The Canada he is building, deliberately and with little scrutiny or real opposition, has a stronger national market and a weaker national vision."

  13. I think it is consistent with his goal of more open global markets. Canada needs to get at least get national about its financial system if it wants to gain ground.

  14. What? That Harper is weakening the social union? I don't see that as criticism, so much as analysis.

  15. You don't think "weakening the social union", "lack of interest in higher education", and "weaker national vision" are in any way critical of Harper's agenda?

    Hullo?

  16. I think Wells has defined a national vision in terms of social and educational programs. Since Harper has no interest in these, he concludes that Harper has no national vision. It could equally argued that it is his plans to create a more national marketplace that constitute Harper's national vision.

    Leave the social programs to the provinces and municipalities, locally mandated and funded, and focus on the national financial system. This seems an effective way to proceed, and certainly the opposition parties do not have a credible position on this.

  17. I'd like to think that Wells has more objectivity than that.

  18. Well, that's Paul Wells' point isn't it?

    The stuff we don't notice doesn't sell newspapers.

    Besides, he has written about this before. Remember the article on "The Man Who Would be [Mackenzie] King?".

  19. Social vision and higher education provincial matters. A weaker national vision is a policy choice you can agree with or not. That's what Mr. Harper is doing. You are free to agree or disagree with his choices. Don't see that description as pejorative at all.

  20. Many Canadians may see him as mean – cons here say not. But the media has castigated Ignatieff for pushing that message and not offering something different. Well, he has. But it's not particularly new – thus the stuck in the past reference – and the media mostly don't like it. In a sense Ignatieff can't win.
    I don''t really understand your last point. If you'd like to explain. Unless you mean didn't mention all the opposition? I'm afraid the Harper as mean has become a bit of a mantra with the NDP and the Bloq. But the libs have tired something else – but the madia aren't really buying it.

  21. Harper's appeal to Canadian voters is that he wants to reduce federal powers over things that provide assistance to the most vulnerable in our society, and increase federal powers that provide assistance to the richest and most powerful of our society?

  22. Having an efficient economic system for group A, will almost certainly help Group B.

    Having a flourishing economy with decent wealth distribution is better than an economy where investment is hindered and there is decent wealth distribution.

    I'm also pretty sure that I disagree that the federal government should be propping up regions with economic depression rather than encouraging settlement where the economic activity is. Better to train and move people to where they will be useful, rather than paying for them to stay in areas and industries (usually resource-based) that have collapsed.

  23. I don't think he is lacking objectivity; it just seems to me that he sees policies for those social issues as necessary parts of a national vision. I think that Wells likes big plans and grand strategies (one of his pets is the knowledge economy and why we need a strategy for it). This is the long shadow of Trudeau on our politics.

  24. I thought it was good question also. Since when did 'bigger is better' become a Con mantra?

  25. And at the very least, if that is "criticism" then saying he is for a stronger national economic union has to be taken as praise, no?

  26. And certainly a tepid criticism when compared to what he says about the opposition parties.

  27. He did not claim Harper had no national vision, just a weaker one. Which is entirely consistent with the statement you just made about "big plans and grand strategies", no?

    If you think "the long shadow of Trudeau on our politics" is to have a national vision that is too big and too grand, then you also would presumably want a weaker national vision, no?

  28. Not having a national vision is not actually a national vision. Harper can do as he pleases (though I'd prefer it was well spelled out) and the electorate can judge him on it, but dismantling Trudeaupia and having no other philosophy is just that — a lack of philosophy, a lack of vision, a lack of much of anything. Why is it better to have smaller government? "Because it'll let me buy that second flatscreen" is not enough of an answer: it should have something to do with the virtues of standing on our own two feet, fighting complacency, or something like that. Something that appeals to the nation for all the reasons that curmudgeons still hate Trudeau.

  29. Good article, Paul.

    You have disected an element of the government's and Harper's plans that has been little discussed. This is exactly why I love magazines (and actually subscribe to Maclean's) because the pace on this kind of change is so slow and subtle that it gets easily missed from the day-to-day obsession with whether the latest poll means an election is imminent or whether the colour of Ignatieff's tie means he's going pull the plug.

    I would reiterate something mention above that Ignatieff has at least spoken about this very issue, many times in speeches in fact and I've been hearing it fromhim for years. But I think fair to say that Harper is not being "pressed" on this at all.

    It is a fundamental shift in federal governance and, in my view, something that would cause most Prime Ministers, from Sir John A, and Mackenzie and Laurier to Trudeau, and Chretien and even Mulroney to turn in their (literal or political) graves.

  30. Don't forget undue government interference on the person, namely personal privacy, personal property and personal liberty.

  31. Well on the economic region thing, Harper is as traditional in his pork and propping as they come.

    Even Trudeau didn't think a southwester Ontario economic agency was needed.

  32. Many Canadians may see Harper as mean…

  33. But to what end? That's where the vision thing kicks in. What is it about individual autonomy as a guiding principle — not to say that really is the CPC's guiding principle, or that they have one — that would make us a better country? Again, "because I personally hate getting screwed around with" is not enough. I for one couldn't care less what anybody's personal preference is, I want to know why I should commit to a better form of Canada in one way or another.

    Mutatis mutandis, that goes for the other parties too, of course, but we're talking Harper.

  34. He's argued as long as I recall for the federal gov't to focus on its own powers and not on the provinces and vice versa. That leads to a stronger economic union and more provincial responsibility for social programs. If that's the accusation I think he pleads guilty.

  35. "Because it'll let me buy that second flatscreen" is not enough of an answer: it should have something to do with the virtues of standing on our own two feet, fighting complacency, or something like that. Something that appeals to the nation for all the reasons that curmudgeons still hate Trudeau.

    Expressed rather glibly, I actually think "because it'll let me buy that second flatscreen" is the best answer possible. If I want another television rather than a vacation for the bureaucrat running the hockey rink in Galt, well, then, that's my goddamned choice, isn't it?

  36. To be conservative is to leave things a torrent of change Jack.

    In other words, overarching ideological monoliths are to be avoided.

  37. Yeah, but I couldn't care less; moreover, I couldn't care less that you couldn't care less that I couldn't care less. But give me a higher purpose and you can get both the flatscreen and — bonus — people like me onside (potentially).

    There is actually no moral virtue in selfishness, only a lot of irony in the need to invent one. It's fine to be selfish, but to pretend that selfishness is actually, mysteriously, miraculously a form of selflessness and public spirit is ridiculous.

  38. Again, and it's not a loaded question: why?

  39. Ah, somebody had to finally accuse Harper of enacting his hidden agenda, didn't they?

  40. For the sake of individual happiness, rather than a system that exists to perpetuate itself. Because an overarching ideology generally rewards only the very few who are guardians of that ideology and enslaves the rest.

    I realize that many conservatives have drifted away from this into libertarian and neoconservative camps, but the first place you should look for the national vision is in the heart and mind of the individual who seeks happiness. That is why a democracy that is truly functioning as it should should be be representative rather than seeking to be transformative.

    There are of course cases where social justice or security demands the changes brought about by an elite, but any powers the government takes should be carefully considered and periodically reconsidered.

    I also fail to see why this is less of a "national vision" than the idea of pushing people to become "more progressive" (more like the elite) in thought and action, or creating monolithic agencies of governmental power.

  41. While some people desiring lower taxes and less government intrusion might be motivated by mere selfishness, I would assume that most believe it leads to a better quality of life.

  42. "That wouldn't happen if you started paying attention to the people who are noticing. "

    Ew! Pay attention to those people?

  43. On that one, I simply have no idea how the CAW is so powerful that we are willing to give them so much money for so little return. But then, Toronto is starting to come around to Harper, so who knows? Maybe they can be bought off after all.

  44. In the best courtroom manner, the Harper Conservatives are taking care to ask a question to which they already know the answer: of course Ottawa has the power to establish a national securities regulator.

    I would not take it as a foregone conclusion that this Supreme Court would provide such a simple answer. That would be too good for the country.

  45. ''He's happy if we don't notice, which is why his government made its announcement on a Friday afternoon.
    The Prime Minister has always been comfortable doing his hardest playing in the corners where the referee isn't looking.''

    LOL, pretty hard for our national media or LPC to be referees when they are so busy rumaging thru websites and writing blogs trying to play gotcha on stimulus spending.
    Press conferences with Door Knobs for gawds sake.
    Or chasing wafers, tapes left in bathrooms and missed photo-ops and telling the PMO to "shut up".

  46. It's the most likely result, because its not a very difficult question. The odds of the answer being "securities regulation is a concurrent jurisdiction with federal paramountcy where an operative inconsistency exists" is very very high. I find his (rather unsubstantiated )contention that the court would take the opportunity to say more to be the more startling statement.

  47. And yet reference questions on the extent of changes to the senate go un-made…

  48. Mr Harper should watch more Canadian Television instead of American television. Maybe then he'd know what's going on in Canada

  49. Why? They don't know either. They are to busy interrupting Canadian events to tell us dumb Canadians about balloon boy.
    Canadian television, tells us NOTHING any longer. They dropped the ball long ago and so this is their issue to wear.

  50. That's because Harper cutting funding to the arts and because the CRTC doesn't support local TV. If you think local news isn't importtant try turning off your TV the next time a tornado rips through you community. Canadian television will die out eventually and then you can try to get your local news on CNN or FOX

  51. "Mr Harper should watch more Canadian Television instead of American television. Maybe then he'd know what's going on in Canada "

    When the hostage situation was going on in Edmonton this week, CTV was covering the Olympic Torch ceremony rather than the WCB hostage taking, I had to go to CNN to find coverage of the incident.

    Sorry, what were you saying about the PM learning from Canadian Television?

  52. Wells, you should actually deign to do some research before you write about something you so clearly know absolutely nothing about. Frustrated with the lack of action by the federal government and realizing that they were losing business as a result of the separate regimes, the provinces created something called the 'passport' scheme. No federal government, just the provinces working on their own to implement a scheme of national scope. It was due to come to full fruition this year. But the Harper Conservatives recognized that this was a challenge to federal power, so they jumped in with a scheme for a national securities regulator. There may well be very good reasons why Canada should have a single voice at the federal level when negotiating with other countries' regulators, but this sure as hell doesn't fit it in with the received wisdom concerning Harper's wish to weaken the federal government and devolve power to the provinces. The provinces challenged the power of the federal government, and Harper responded by taking over. Go back and rethink your analysis.

  53. I guess the operative phrase is 'decent wealth distribution'. For some I assume that this means distribution through market forces, and for others it means distribution through government intervention?

    Your point about training and moving people who find themselves in depressed regions is a good one, but I can't help wondering what happens if the area these people are moved to becomes depressed. The situation that comes to mind is the folks from the Maritimes who went to Ft. McMurray at the peak of the oilsands activity, and who are now returning home because things have slowed down. Many of those who moved their families to Alberta and paid boom-time prices for homes are now unable to return home without walking away from their Alberta properties. Maybe a third option is for government to try to bring new industries to depressed areas. Didn't somebody in New Brunswick get a lot of jobs by encouraging telemarketers to locate there with tax incentives?

  54. Wouldn't leaving social programs to the provinces and municipalities be an advantage to wealthier provinces and municipalities and a disadvantage to less wealthy ones?

  55. Oh please, Ted 999, I get better local coverage on our local radio. True!
    I have asked our local networks to try and cover our local events more often and THEY think that we are more interested in Michele Obama and her fight against obesity.
    Interesting and relevant but NOT LOCAL!
    Nope, I will cancel them if given the option and THEY can earn ME back!

  56. Sounds like direct democracy. Good idea in theory. For a reality check take a boo at some of the plebiscite questions down south [ shudder] Surely a representative democracy like our was intended to be more than a mere populist or reactive rubber stamp?.

  57. First I've heard of 'CSA' – just another one of those things the press has overlooked? Maybe they might take a look now.

  58. Look, I'm all for criticism. Harper is the PM. By all means, criticize him!

    But don't try to suggest (as Stok does above) that it's not criticism. It is, and it may be good criticism if Wells could provide a little less ambiguity as to what the hell he's talking about with phrases like "social union", "national vision" and "lack of interest in higher education".

    Commenters seem to be breaking into two camps here: those who think the criticism of Harper is bad, and those who think it's not criticism. I'm saying criticism is good and healthy, but I'd like a little more precision.

  59. Sigh, DO try to keep up, knick. That was the Harper election mode model, now we've got the Harper governing mode version. Completely different animal altogether. Like DOS is to Windows 7.

  60. Hey, that might explain why the Harper government has been so silent on delivering actual numbers than can be analyzed.

  61. How would Mr. Wells expect the Canadian military stop the abuse of Afghans by Afghans? Have the terrorists sleep in their tents with them? Unless we were prepared to develop our own prison system along with a judicial system that Afghans would accept we had no choice but to turn the prisoners over to the Afghan authorities. We can ensure to the best of our ability make sure they are not tortured but it is a pipe dream to think that we could stop it. It is a tempest in a teapot by those who oppose the war and want to continually malign the government.

  62. What Harper has done is prevented dissentng provinces from going through their local court system which will ultimately end up with the Supremes anyways. So he cut them off at the pass. Case closed.

  63. If you are saying the canned newscasts of CTV, CBC will tell him what is happening in Canada you are sadly mistaken.

  64. I'm glad that we don't spend every election now talking on and on about provincial issues like health care and education. Those properly belong at the provincial level.

    Harper's raised the level of debate in this country to be more on commerce and foreign affairs. Not saying he's done the right things on either of those, but the debate has changed. Think back to earlier pre-Harper elections, it was like the provincial elections all over again except with politicians who didn't actually make education and health care delivery decisions.

  65. I liked DOS. It had limitations, but with a bit of effort it did what you told it to do. Windows 7 is all about perceptions and appealing to the masses and tyring to make software less scary for the uninitiated, and all of that gets in the way of the actual functionality.

  66. Well, that's fine with me, but then we need to find some substitute for making this a better world to give our lives purpose. The entrepreneurs have entrepreneurship, but there's a basic human will to participate in some Grand Scheme that requires satisfaction. If you don't satisfy it, somebody comes along with a big flag and a marching band and leads us all off to war.

  67. I liked the column. It raised many interesting points, and it covered a lot of ground. The problem is that it should have been 2,500 words, instead of 950 words. While the opinions were skilfully condensed, there was an overload of pith. Many of the most interesting (and controversial) points were presented as breezy assertions, and I look forward to future columns where they will be presented in a more developed form.

  68. Oh, arguments about "X is what happens based on my social theory of human nature" (backed up only with arbitrary opinion) have no truck with me. That's for Spinozians, Hegelians, Marxists, Weberites, Freudians, Jungians and other discredited continental philosophers.

    Besides, maintaining individual freedom should be a hard enough collective effort to satisfy you Jack. It requires everyone to respect their neighbour and his rights instead of an elite seizing power and over riding them for self-aggrandizement for the making of a new and better world. People are all too eager to discount the importance of human life and human dignity for the sake of their ideology and their goals.

  69. I'm sure there is a happy medium between direct democracy that you describe and turning over all our powers to a judicial, bureaucratic, plutocratic elite.

    Don't get me wrong, the elites have their place. You can't fight plutocrats without bureaucrats, you can't fight bureaucrats without plutocrats, and you can't fight either without the judiciary. (The judiciary is held accountable by the legislative commons).

    Granted, most of the problems in our democracy come about through apathy and laziness of the average citizen, but I think the undue deference to ideology is also problematic. The creation of the grand projects of the nanny state and corporate power have essentially created fairly toxic conditions for individual liberty. They both have their benefits no doubt, but they also have their drawbacks. The powers that give to both have to be carefully considered and we would do well not to let them slip further from our control.

    Of course, we all know that both the bureaucracy and corporate finance need reforms, no matter what your political opinion. It isn't going to happen though because the ideologies don't trust each other, and as a government it is easier to pump your ideology vs. the other than it is to tear either of them down.

  70. There's many Canadians – a lot of them west of Ontario – who viscerally hate social engineering at the federal level. They don't really believe Canada is a homogeneous social,cultural or political entity. And, they think they get screwed whenever some well meaning Ottawa party wants to do something to better the "national vision". Which is why you can still meet Albertans who utter the name Trudeau as a profanity of sorts.

    It's not just the west, of course. In the last ten or twenty years, most provinces have adopted the strategy of circling the wagons and seeing Ottawa as a hindrance, more than a unifying force. In a way, most regions have adopted the same strategies Quebec has employed: ignore the myth of the nation, and fight their own piece of the pie.

    It's not all about Quebec, but the continued health of the BQ, as one example, is a fairly constant symbolic reminder that 'national vision' or 'social union' are largely quaint ideals from a bygone era. You or I might not like it, but many citizens see the country more as a federation of convenience, than an entity of shared purpose (or at least, they've been voting that way – goodness knows we all have a wonderful ability to hold simultaneously contradictory views!).

    To say Wells is being critical is to privilege your own particular desires for Canada, I'd argue. Whereas "Canada" is whatever its citizens want, or don't want, it to be.

  71. Sigh. The problem with setting up a business in Canada is the extraordinarily high costs of dealing with government for returns in a miniscule market. Oil and gas works because it is so profitable. People were commuting from New Brunswick to work in Alberta. I don't think there are very many business models that can do that, but it tells you the level of profitability to make a business prosper in Canada.

    Anything less than that, and it doesn't make sense to invest when the barriers are so high. One is the multitude of securities regulators.

    Derek

  72. Do you think the social and national cohesion of the country can be maintained when one or two provinces are paying their way, the rest living off of them?

    There was a name for that once. Lebensraum.

    The Ontario/Quebec centered Canada no longer exists. And Alberta will not continue to shovel money across their border to other provinces with the political power but no money. That is the threat to national cohesion. Harper seems to figure that getting the economy working elsewhere may improve the situation.

    Derek

  73. Yes, and DOS had the added bonus of behaving as you expected, instead of going off on some mysterious agenda of its own.

  74. I too, miss DOS. And cars that started with a crank handle out the front. :)

  75. Harper has made no secret of his intent to have the feds look after their own constitutional jurisdictions and let the provinces manage those areas that are theres. However, with Liberal government they want to control the purse strings thereby enabling them to inter in those areas that are the domain of the provinces. We talk about education as an example. We have a terrible education system. Kids are graduating who can't read or write and are not prepared to live in the outside world. Education is provincial responsibility but we can't even get the provinces to agree on a standard ciriculum which would see kids leave high school at least knowing how to read, write or handle their own personal finances. The fact is only about 30% of the kids go to university. Yet we insist on teaching them subjects that they will not have any use for when they leave high school i.e. geometry, algebra and the list goes on. There is no incentive for the provinces to provide quality education or an efficient school system because they are not accountable for the end result. If kids are not educated properly the only answer is the feds didn't give us enough money.

  76. Harper has made no secret of his intent to have the feds look after their own constitutional jurisdictions and let the provinces manage those areas that are theres. However, with Liberal government they want to control the purse strings thereby enabling them to inter in those areas that are the domain of the provinces. We talk about education as an example. We have a terrible education system. Kids are graduating who can't read or write and are not prepared to live in the outside world. Education is provincial responsibility but we can't even get the provinces to agree on a standard ciriculum which would see kids leave high school at least knowing how to read, write or handle their own personal finances. The fact is only about 30% of the kids go to university. Yet we insist on teaching them subjects that they will not have any use for when they leave high school i.e. geometry, algebra and the list goes on. There is no incentive for the provinces to provide quality education or an efficient school system because they are not accountable for the end result. If kids are not educated properly the only answer is the feds didn't give us enough money.

  77. hollinm continued

    Harper can show leadership by bringing the provinces to the table to develop an education system that works across the country but then hold them accountable for the results. The way we are going will result in producing a work force that is uneducated and cannot cope with everyday life skills. We don't live in a nirvana where every kid wants and will get a university education.

  78. The problem with CSA's "passport" approach was not that it challenged federal power, but that we still had 12 different agencies representing Canada at international fora. The was always going to be unworkable.

  79. "…because the Chrétien and Martin governments used to make wistful noises about wanting to establish a national securities regime too."

    Not exactly, Paul. Bureaucrats under the Chreitien/Martin era made repeated loud noises internally about the need for a national regulator. But we were consistently rebuffed by staff in Paul Martin's office who were concerned about the political fallout in Quebec. Paul Martin undertood the arguments in favour of a national regulator but I do not think he believed that it was worth the political price.

  80. I think your article is excellent and I agree with much of it. However, I think you do not give sifficient weight to one of the most important reasons why the federal govenment has finally found the guts to go over the heads of provincial opponents now. The global financial crisis has made it more important than ever for Canada to have a credible voice in international financial fora. Twelve provincial regulators just don't cut it sitting at a table with their single US or Chinese counterpart.

  81. The rebalancing of power is happening naturally as the population and economic power shifts west. The fact that the west's political power hasn't matched its economic power is not theft at all, but merely a reflection of majority rule. It's been a long road for firewall Steve to national economy champion.

  82. Yeah torture of individuals who hav'n't yet been tried is just a tempest in a teapot. Whatever would we do without hackneyed metaphors? And of course those who do not wish to abet torture are just trouble makers and Harper haters…must be nice to live in your teeny tiny conservative universe.

  83. Personally i'd like my federal govt to be more than an ATM machine for the provinces.

    • Personally, I would like my federal government to be LESS than an ATM for the provinces.

    • Try rebalancing the powers and you might get that result.

  84. Nice analysis. As for the overload of pith, i think PW dumped most of that on us on his next blog. :)

    • Not just terse, but acidly witty.

      Pith and vinegar….

  85. "We have a terrible education system .[ Kids are graduating who can't read or write] and are not prepared to live in the outside world"

    You can't graduate without grade 12 English, which is a pretty tough exam. So what was your point again? Life's complex, so are many of the problems and solutions.

  86. Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea to so completely gut our labour markets. In the past many of the kids who didn't fit in were assured of empolyment and some measure of self respect. It was always a pipe dream to think all of them would get a higher education. It's not so surprising at all the lots of kids don't graduate. We see the consequences of not thinking through all of our economic and trade decisions.

  87. Which would you say is a bigger threat to individual liberty: The nanny state and or bureaucracy or corporate power. Honest question?

    • Both are dangerous, but I would say that the bureaucracy of government is the more immediate threat. Corporate power can ruin my economic interests or my environment, but the bureaucracy has more power to impose fines, demand conformity to certain policies, or restrict my liberty through imprisonment. Corporations could use their wealth to ensure such a thing as well, but they generally require the cooperation of a corrupt government to make it happen.

      Now that isn't to say that the bureaucracy and corporations don't serve valuable and appreciated functions, but they shouldn't be trusted. I don't think that should be a left vs. right wing thing… just common sense. After all, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear is a common expression for a reason.

      • See, this just comes across as whining. Personally I could not care less for your liberty, TedTylerEzro, and when push comes to shove neither could most Canadians (depending on the issue). The appeal to "But what about my inherent rights?!?" is just as off-putting from the libertarians as it is from any number of plaintive, Liberal-voting special interests. It's not an argument, it's pure sentiment. It reminds me of high school.

        • Meh, I'm not asking you to care. I'm asking you to give me the power so it's my prerogative to care rather than yours. I likes my parliamentary democracy, my free judiciary, my personal property rights, and my inherent human rights. I recognize that I depend on the wider society for a great many things, but I also have great reason to fear the power of the wider society can bring to bear on my individual self. I will say it loud and often that all powers given to our elites should be carefully considered and periodically reconsidered. For example, are these powers I have given up good for either me or the wider society, or does it serve a specific interest or an outdated and discredited 19th century ideology?

          Besides, of course you care about my liberty. That's why you don't want me going to Guantanamo. I presume you don't want to go to Guantanamo either. I also assume you don't like all the powers that the Canadian and (to a greater extent) the U.S. governments took rashly after Sept 11th, 2001 and have yet to rescind. Probably taken too rashly for the citizenry to fully apprehend (pardon the pun) the implications, and certainly more than overdue for a reconsideration.

          • Well, see, there you're starting to give me reasons! That's all I asked for! And, needless to say, one is not eager to rescind your liberty, but if you want it expanded you likewise need to say why! "I want it and I want it now" can be implied.

          • I gave reasons before. I just didn't give specific examples.

            To wit, I quote myself:

            "bureaucracy has more power to impose fines, demand conformity to certain policies, or restrict my liberty through imprisonment." as to why I consider it a greater threat than corporate power.

            In other words corporations can scam me or make it impossible to make a decent livelihood, or cause massive and societal upheaval… but only the state really has the power to lay hands on me personally and lock me in a little box for years on end. Some states claim the power to execute me. So I fear the state more.

          • I doubt you have much to fear in that regard.

          • Well, I'm certainly not heading to a shack in the depths of the NWT with a stash of automatic weapons. But people do run afoul of the system, and the larger and more intrusive the system the more likely you are to run afoul of it.

          • Except the state is what keeps the corporates from taking these powers.. albeit not quite as directly as the state may exercise them.

          • I would never deny that. Nor would I deny that the state is perhaps neglecting its duty in exercising the necessary power to reform corporate law. I imagine you agree with that Thwim.

          • Yes, we are completely agreed with that. If it doesn't vote, it's not a person, and many seem to forget that the privilege of the corporate veil actually is supposed to come with responsibilities to society.

        • JM, above: Personally I could not care less for your liberty, TedTylerEzro…
          JM, below: There is actually no moral virtue in selfishness…

          I do believe I might have just "pulled a Wherry." Not like the master himself, mind you, but give me time.

          • My my MYL. Some might consider that trolling!

          • It is a rather effective one too.

        • Personally I could not care less for your liberty, TedTylerEzro, and when push comes to shove neither could most Canadians…

          First they came for Ted, and we did nothing, for we were not Ted. Then, they came for Jack and we did nothing…

          • Far as i can see you've taken his remarks out of context…it that was deliberate…it's trolling.

  88. Fuuny! Was the -1 for me or didn't you like PW's quote?

  89. I think Wells' piece shows that people (notably the Prime Minister) can have a "national vision" for the country without believing that *every* aspect of our governance ought to be national in scope / federally-delivered. Contrast trade with healthcare for examples of things that Wells thinks Harper thinks ought to be national and not. I think Wells implies at different places in his piece that Harper's view is a legitimate point of view, and in other places that, while legitimate, it's sub-optimal. And I'd agree with Sean that a lot of people in the West see the phrase "national vision" as something not to be trusted. But I disagree that such skepticism extends so far as to consider the country a "federation of convenience."

    • Perhaps not a federation of convenience, but a federation surely.

      Quebec alone would insist on that, and I don't see why the rest of us shouldn't enjoy our regionalism as well.

    • I agree, 'federation of convenience' was probably too strong a way to put it. How about describing Canadian's sentiment toward their federation as increasingly utilitarian, and decreasingly emotional/cultural at its root?

  90. Two questions to which I think I know the answers:

    1. If the national media is to play the role of referee, aren't they doing so in the skates of Mick McGeough?

    2. Could one legitimately substitute "centralist vision" for "national vision" in the daycare and healthcare critiques in the above article?

  91. My point is that they're ineradicably eager to pursue causes, and you can't pretend they can be reformed. You may be a paragon of non-discredited humble individual anti-self-aggrandizement, but your neighbour isn't, can't be, and won't be. We need to accept that fact and deal with it. Otherwise we're just dreaming a libertarian pipe-dream.

    • Eh, I see no reason to submit to your argument that I need one ideological elite that seeks to transform me into a cog in their overarching ideology to protect me from other ideological elites. I'll accept them as they come and still strive to push for a society that is tolerable for me. Just because something is unattainable, doesn't mean you can't move closer in that direction.

  92. And with this column, Wells continues his reign as the country's no. 1 Harperologist. (Though William Johnson comes close.)

    I don't see what the hue and cry is over in this comments section.

    Harper's pursuing free trade with the EU and a national securities regulator, and a greater sense of Canada as a single economic space.

    Other than the socialists and protectionists, who's against that? Don't you Liberals claim to be for this stuff?

    • Socialists generally would like a single economic space. They just want absolute control over that space.

    • Depends what is meant by "Free Trade".
      It it like our Free Trade with the US, where they violate the agreements and we give them money? Or perhaps where we give them unfettered access to our government contracts but they keep theirs closed off from us: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomm

      Or is it free trade like trying to give away control of our fisheries? http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1148064.html

      I'm for free trade when it stands to benefit both parties.. not when the object is to make a deal just so you can say you've made a deal, as seems to be Harper's motif.

  93. But if you insist, I can simply push to what my dream of an ideal society would be. Then since you probably oppose it vehemently we could have a huge cultural/civil war and everyone would be happy.

    Otherwise we can largely learn to get along with each other and consider and reconsider each policy according to its function and result, rather than an overarching ideology designed to remake society into some grand project.

    • "An overarching ideology" seems like a pretty apt description of libertarianism to me. It's like Argentinian dulce de leche: you can apply it to anything, though the palate can only take it for so long.

  94. Makes sense!!

  95. That could have been resolved very easily by having the provinces nominate somebody to speak for them, just like the European Union does on matters concerning foreign relations. It's not a sufficient excuse for the feds to jump in.

    • Canada has long sent reps from OSC and BCSC and other provincial regulators to international financial meetings on securities issues. However, other countries have complained for years that they want a single voice representing Canada.

      • That's nice. They can bite us. They will take what they get. In any case, what they were doing in the past is not what I'm proposing.

        • The posts here are misleading. Typically at international fora, we have had just the head of the CSA attend. I'm ok with a national regulator as long as we have strong regional offices to serve the markets esp in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. But good lord, people are grossly misinformed about the amount of harmonization that already exists. The amount of legislative harmonization which currently exists is very significant (go open up an office consolidation of your provincial securities act and count the number of National Instruments — which are uniform statutes adopted across the country — it's huge). People have been brainwashed by the Globe and Mail editorial board into thinking we've got some incoherent mess of a system, and grossly misleading and unfair to the CSA and all the others, who have significantly tranformed our system over the last 20 years and achieved an admirable amount of harmonization.

  96. Good comment dbk. The nat´l regulator is the one solution to supercede all the indiv. prov. ones but with so many micro junior public companies in this country its almost cost prohibitive to register an offering in more than one jurisdiction, let alone market it nationally. When banks were allowed in the 90´s to take over the regional and national brokerage firms, costs again rose dramatically, and smaller public offerings have largely been stifled. I prefer the potential simplicity of a nat´l regulator but feel that in time we´ll lament the loss of vitality (and higher risk/reward) of having regionally distinct markets.

  97. Every US state has their own active regulatory agency as well as the SEC federally. If the recent imbroglio in the US still has you jaw-droppingly approving of the SEC you do have the faith. I contend that in many cases complex over-regulation in hand with regulatory examiners who pine for favour and approval from the titans of industry served up the beginnings of the meltdown of trading instruments very well.

    • Once again, people are posting without knowing the facts. The fact of the matter is that at international fora, Canada is typically represented by the head of the CSA, the Canadian Securities Administrators (which are made up of the provincial and territorial bodies). The CSA actually does a ton of work on harmonization, and does frequently speak with a single voice. It's so frustrating how almost nobody, except for securities lawyers, seems to be aware of this.

  98. Curiouser and curiouser. . .
    folks in Victoria, BC were somewhat gobsmacked when John Baird turned up today (Oct 24) with one-third of the funding for replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge, price tag $63 million, and held a news conference against a backdrop of those blue Action Plan posters, no big branded cheque this time. The project had been previously turned down for federal or provincial funding, and the city had planned to provide all of the $63 million. The funds are coming from the 'Building Canada Fund', established a couple of years ago and now apparently a component of the stimulus program.

    http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Federal+governm
    http://johnsonstreetbridge.org/?page_id=168

  99. When the car with the crank sticking out of the front didn't start it was likely caused by something that many car owners were capable of fixing on their own. Nowadays even the mechanic at the garage with the high tech diagnosing machine only has about a 50-50 chance of getting it fixed in one visit. Sure, many things are better, but there does seem to be a lot of two steps forward, one step back.

    Blogging might be difficult with DOS, although there might be a certain amount of 'narrowing' of the pool of contributors…..

    • Amen, brother. There are days I seriously consider building a cabin in the woods to live out the rest of my days.

  100. Obvious question time. What has our "best friend and good neighbor's" experience been with a single national regulator…the SEC? I would argue that the stench being smelled around the world would be a poor example for us to emulate.

    If private concerns possess essentialy unlimited economic power to lobby and can actually "blackmail" nations by threatening economic disaster, how do you think it is likely to turn out in the long run?

    Since everyone "qualified" to work at the national regulator could generally earn triple to ten times as much in the private sector (and will be endlessly tempted to promulgate regulations which benefit commercial concerns at the expense of retail) how do you think it will work out?

    I have read that Canada escaped the worst of the recent "global meltdown" because of our parochial system. Isn't it a classical conservative maxim that if t ain't broke don't fix it"?

    • You're falling into the same logic trap that everyone does when considering policy alternatives: using the USA as the only comparator. For something like securities regulation, the USA is a really poor comparator. They are the epicentre of world capital markets. We should be comparing ourselves to Australia, Germany, France, Italy, perhaps Japan. Not the USA.

      • Besides which, it really wasn't our provincial securities regulators who were at the centre of responsibility for the Things That Mattered during the so-called meltdown — really that was our banking regulators and laws (e.g., the Bank Act, which is an act of the federal parliament and already regulated by the feds), our Central Bank Governor (another area that's already under central/federal jurisdiction), and our federal finance minister, using fiscal/spending powers.

        The other thing that's grossly distorted in the commentary on this issue is the extent to which Canadian securities laws are already harmonized. Wells falls into the same cliched trap here, using the standard cliche "patchwork", without doing his homework. A ton of securities rules across Canada — from prospectus rules, to exemptions, to continuous disclosure, to corporate governance, to audit committees — are already harmonized. But you'll never hear that from the Globe and Mail editorial board. I expected better from P Wells.

        • Even 10% or 5% fragmentation throws everything into dissarray, adds cost etc. The level of harmonization is INSUFFICIENT. The Ed Boards are bang on.

    • No. You are incorrect.

      Canada escaped it due to our conservative banking practices. HOWEVER, if you want to assign credit to a regulator, you want to credit OSFI. Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Federal. We don't have 13 little regulators stuffed with patronage appointments from premiers chasing around our 5 banks. We have ONE federal regulator, with teeth, chasing them. It works.

      Secondly, if you think the SEC is a joke, I agree, but then the OSC is even worse. Every single time a Canadian commits an offense, why do you think it's always the SEC who gets them? Because our toothless, ineffective, and absurd regulatory system. In fact, our regulatory system is the worst possible; it exists, thus it gives people the false sense of security, but it does nothing. People think they are safe because the regulator is there, but the regulator is toothless. It would be better to have no regulator at all, at least then people would know they need to watch out for themselves, as is the true case today in Canada. Maybe not in a few years if Harper finally fixes this problem that most other countries fixed after the great depression.

  101. Thanks for the lengthy reply, and sorry to have pidgeon-holed you; I quite agree with your general principles. Don't know how I got the impression you were some kind of ideologue, but I regret the mistake.

    • Well, don't go too far in praising me as a free thinker. I have only voted for one political party in my entire life, and I am a fervent believer in (and strongly agree with) a faith that doesn't compromise very well on matters of doctrine and morality.

      • So, if I get this right, you're against big government because you fear it will attempt to regulate your religious reliefs. But isn't that a projection of your resentment of "the left" for the way it generally looks down on fervent religious belief?

        • I fear the government for the fear that it will abuse my person, and largely I will not be able to summon any power to defeat them if they largely take away all sources of my independence. My fear about my freedom of religion is just small segment of that.

          I'm just saying I favour some factions over others, and that I contradict myself when I say that I should always consider each policy on its own, rather than in terms of a wider ideology.

  102. We have a terrible education system .[ Kids are graduating who can't read or write] and are not prepared to live in the outside world"

    You can't graduate without grade 12 English, which is a pretty tough exam. So what was your point again? Life's complex, so are many of the problems and solutions

  103. One little nugget of information to add to the article .. another reason harper has amped up the play to form a single sec regulator = EU Trade Deal – this is one their biggest concerns as they only want to deal with one ….. as to Harper marvellous ability to get things done in Ottawa despite being in a minority and while the pundit class is debating the merits of an election or whether stevie ate the wafer or even god forbid a doorknob like Easter had a complaint – well it's all part of the hidden agenda – stevie said you won't recoginize the place when he's through didn't he? NEXT STOP WORLD DOMINATION!

  104. This is nothing more than a thinly veiled pro-Liberal rant. For some reason there are some journalists in this country who think that any direction taken that is not approved by the Liberal Party leader is somehow un-Canadian. I have news for you……..you can be a Canadian and not a Liberal! You can also be a Liberal and not a Canadian, witness Mr. Ignatieff. (I would say something about Liberal policy, but nobody knows what that is anymore, least of all Mr. Ignatieff)

  105. "With two projects, the securities regulator and the attempt to secure free trade with Europe, Harper is trying to strengthen the Canadian economic union."

    I agree with most of what is written in this story but I don't understand how these two policies could make up for all of the other damaging things Harper has done on the subject of our economic prospects as a country. His spending policies have left us crippled budget-wise and his less than enthusiastic approach to trade with BRIC countries is down right irresponsible.

    Sorry but a national regulator and a trade deal with EU doesn't make up for everything else.

    • "His spending policies have left us crippled budget-wise"

      And what is it that the Liberals or NDP would have done differently? Spend less? Tax more? Are they officially on record as saying so? Do tell.

      • No knowing of the NDP, but based on their long history, a Liberal government would have been smaller – Harper set new records for spending even before the stimulus binge began.

  106. It seems like yesterday a few Reformers sat down and decided to change Canada via a political route and slowly but surely with a tuck here and a squeeze there it has come to pass. A few astute journalist have written about it and many like myself have spoken out for years but to no avail. I am now at the point of caring less …. perhaps that was part of their plan … it worked well with Bush and Chaney so why not here …. Bon Chance Canada y'all are going to need it.

  107. Great article Mr. Wells and for those who post here thinking they will be saved as they lay at the feet of any dictator read your history books for those who are employed as ponds are indeed sacrificial.

  108. We have a continent sized country where people 3,000 miles in one direction don't necessarily see things the same as people 3,000 miles in the other direction. This is why we have federalism. So for certain things those people 3,000 miles in either direction get to have it their way. For other issues it makes sense to have the feds in control ie there are national mobility and residency rights. A person residing in Ontario doesn't have to apply for a visa to move to Alberta and vice versa. In Quebec they want a stronger social safety net, in Alberta they see themselves as descendants of hard bitten, make do pioneers. The two places tend to have different approaches on public issues. With a federal system they get to handle certain things their own way. This is a good thing. We celebrate multiculturalism? We celebrate diversity? So celebrate.

  109. I don't watch much news anymore, its balloon boy, or talking heads that are only really pleased to hear the sound of their own voices.If you think by turning on CTV, CBC you will learn anything, sadly you are very wrong.

  110. It would, hence where the inequality stems from!

    • It would, hence up until the current recession, Ontario has shovelled money out the door to other provinces via Ottawa.

  111. Paul, your constitutional law is a bit off. No one doubts that the provinces have jurisdiction over securities as part of their general jurisdiction of contracts. The current provincial regulators aren't intrusions on federal power; they flow from the provincial jurisdiction. The real question is whether the feds also have jurisdiction by virtue of the T&C power. Courts have sometimes read the T&C paragraph narrowly to preserve the provincial contract law power and knowing that the feds have been reluctant to test the issue in court. Because the feds have let the issue lie for so long and everyone has acknowledged the provincial jurisdiction, the "hey bud out" reaction by Que and AB isn't quite as odd as your article suggests.

  112. I hope you weren't criticising Harper for doing his job. He may not be charming and witty, and his finance policies concerning women have a definite stench, but he does display refreshing determination to get stuff done.
    At least we are not suffering from politics by "fashion and oratory".

    • "I just need someone to love…"

  113. I've noticed. And I love it.

    Federal Trade and Commerce laws being enforced? Amazing. It'll be strange to one day live in a Canada where it's just as easy for someone in Ontario to do business in, say, Manitoba, as it has been to do business in any of the 50 American States for 20 years. Strange, but good. It'll almost feel like we're a REAL country. Almost.

    Free Trade with the EU? Amazing again. Imagine, a Canada that can at least sometimes pretend to set it's own policy, without checking with Washington first, because they won't hold that economic axe over our heads. Imagine, a Canada that is no longer the most trade reliant nation in the world, that just happens to be completely reliant on one nation. Who knows it. And uses it as an economic and policy hammer over us whenever they can.

    Keep it up, Harpo. If you do enough of this boring but great type of stuff, I might almost forget your party's Neanderthalish Social Conservative beliefs.

  114. "his hardest playing in the corners where the referee isn't looking"

    I hope you're not insinuating that you (the media) are the referees.

    • Busted.

  115. If you don't think a national securities regulator will provide assistance to the most vulnerable in our society, then you need to do a little more homework on how OSFI – bank and life insurance regulator in Canada – got the job done, and how our friends at AIG, regulated at the State level and the lynchpin that caused the financial crisis, slipped through the cracks.

  116. A single federal regulator will be subject to political interference, bureaucratic corruption and limited transparency for ordinary Canadians . This is normal operations for the Feds and Ottawa. I hope Alberta does the fight and resists overtures to join. Ten regulators may be too many but it keeps the system honest and open. The NSR will need to be bilingual, centred in Ottawa much too far away from the provinces and will increase costs for ordinary investors. I read where the new NSR will relocate a Provinces reulator staff to Ottawa. Who Pays.?? Bad move!!!