Provinces, Cities Fill Canada's Federal Policy Vacuum

Jeffrey Simpson argues that, in most policy areas that matter to Canadians, the federal government is doing almost nothing, while provinces and cities are moving ahead with innovation in energy, climate change and transportation.
May 7, 2010, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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Simpson points out that the federal government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hostile to climate change policy and has no real vision concerning cities save its "tough on crime" rhetoric.

"Talk to citizens about health care, energy, climate change, education, social justice or the future of their country and communities, and people just might listen. But in Ottawa, almost nothing related to these issues figures in discussion or policy.

At the provincial level...exciting and controversial things are happening. Provinces are on the front line of the climate change and energy debates, in part because the federal government wants no part of a national approach. British Columbia has green taxes and a renewable energy strategy. Ontario proposes higher flow-through hydro rates for solar and wind energy. Nova Scotia is advancing with tidal power.

Some municipalities are working to green their cities, with everything from new hybrid buses to better building codes. It's revealing and encouraging to note how many provincial and federal politicians are leaving to run municipally. For people who want action in important policy fields, the provincial and municipal levels look inviting – and relevant."

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Published on Friday, May 7, 2010 in The Globe and Mail
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