208 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:01 Jan 2005
Release Date:25 Aug 2004
Release Date:01 Oct 2007


UBC Press

In a world where federal states seem to exist precariously,politicians and academics from around the globe continue to look toCanada as a model of federalism. And yet, our own system oforganization and governance also appears strained: Quebec nationalism,First Nations’ claims, the regionalization of party politics, andthe uneven and shifting delivery of essential services have all alteredthe face of federal politics. Federalism explains how Canadacame to be a federation (what reasons there were for it, and againstit, historically); what the challenges to federalism currently are; andhow we might fortify some areas of weakness in the federal system.

Jennifer Smith argues that federalism is part of the democraticproblem now; however, reformed, it can be part of the solution. Sincetheorists disagree on the democratic credentials of federalism, it isessential to look at how a real federal system operates. Smith examinesthe origins of Canadian federalism and its special features, thenanalyzes it in relation to the benchmarks of the Canadian DemocraticAudit project: responsiveness, inclusiveness, and participation.Finding that Canadian federalism falls short on each benchmark, sherecommends changes ranging from virtual regionalism to a Council of theFederation that includes Aboriginal representatives.

Democracy is about more than the House of Commons or elections. Itis also about federalism. This sparkling account of Canadian federalismis a must-read for students and scholars of Canadian politics,politicians and policymakers, and those who care about Canadiandemocracy.

This is an important book that should be read by academic students and practitioners of Canadian federalism alike. It reopens important and unresolved questions about democratic federal governance in a constructive and even-handed manner. Thomas O. Hueglin, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Journal of Political Science
Jennifer Smith is Professor and Department Chair ofPolitical Science at Dalhousie University.



1 Auditing Federalism in Canada

2 Federalism and Democracy

3 Canadian Federalism

4 Democratic Audit of Inclusiveness in the Federal System

5 Democratic Audit of Participation in the Federal System

6 Democratic Audit of Responsiveness in the Federal System

7 The Democratic Audit and Change in the Federal System

8 The Need for Change

Discussion Questions

Additional Reading

Works Cited


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