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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Learning from Albertans

Disputes between various levels of government, between different regions of the country or of the province (or even the city), and between different interest groups and different socio-economic classes seem sadly inevitable.

I have written a lot about how the provincial Harris/Eves Tories have used a form of regional warfare in Ontario, pitting the suburbanites against the cities, with mixed results for the rural regions. I don't know enough Ontario political history to say whether this was an innovation here, or not.

Growing up in Windsor, I knew the general consensus was that the city was always ignored. But, I don't know if this sort of complaint was wide-spread, or if it really was just a Windsor phenomenon since Windsor truly is ignored. It's the 15th largest city in Canada but is generally off the map as far as most Canadians and Canadian institutions are concerned.

Provincially, fighting over who gets what has been going on for years. Quebec's story is well-known. Now, Alberta is having serious talks about separatism. They're "not being listened to" in Ottawa.

The question I'm looking for answers on is whether or not this is simply an inevitable state of affairs. Personally, I feel today's federal government has done a decent job of balancing the interests of different parts of the country. I don't generally agree with the complaints of the westerners. But, then again, I don't live in the west.

In provincial politics, I feel more like Albertans claim they do: the higher level of government never stops screwing me over when they deal with my local jurisdiction. I tend to come to the same conclusion they do: the answer is more local control. However, on the federal level, I tend to reject this approach because I believe in high national standards and the cooperation required to acheive them across the country.

In the end, I'm not sure what the answer should be. Perhaps the struggle I have described is simply a necessary part of the political process in a democracy. I am looking for answers. In the meantime, it is always interesting to ponder a situation when you find a parallel between yourself and those with whom you disagree.



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