Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is Canada Too-Big-To-Fail?

In last Saturday's Toronto Star, Irvin Studin wrote an editorial entitled "Canada is too big to fail" where he promptly asserts that,

If Quebec goes, who in the rest of today’s Canada will agree to be governed from Ottawa? Will Victoria agree? Will St. John’s? And, to be sure, will Calgary? Instead, a succession of unilateral declarations of independence is far more likely, with a hodge-podge of new political-constitutional unions and partnerships issuing from what will be a highly destabilizing, chaotic and protracted period of bartering by weak political units, shifting constituencies and even outside powers in order to arrive at a new “post-Canadian” legitimacy across our gigantic land mass.

Needless to say, Irvin regards smaller, decentralized states as inferior to the large centralized bureaucracies we're used to today. Obviously, he's never read Orwell. In addition, he jumps to the conclusion that if Quebec goes, the whole country will fall apart. Nevertheless, let's accept this fact. Let's reason from the premise that when Quebec goes, so does Canada.

What would a "post-Canadian" world look like?

The birth of Canada can be summed up as: a bunch of drunk politicians used Chinese slave labour to build a railroad financed by British bankers.

And that's about the essence of our history.

Therefore, I see little reason why "Canada" should be governed by a centralized bureaucracy originating from Ottawa. The idea of being "Canadian" is akin to being a Christian or a Jays fan. It's a cultural thing, a borderline religion where abstract ideas penetrate physical reality. There's nothing tangible about Canada. The land mass? It's the northern section of North America, a panoply of various geoclimatic regions. The people? Individual human beings that descend from a lower primate species originating from the African continent. And nationalism? The emotions that make it feel as if you belong to a community, something larger than yourself? Is this not possible in smaller countries? Or in local communities? Or rather, the individual family unit?

There is no logical reason to "believe" in your country anymore than to support the Jays over the Mets. Canadians have been bound by invisible lines for too long. Imagine, connecting with people based on mutual interests and shared values, rather than some vague social contract you nor I have ever seen or signed.

Canada without a federal government would still be Canada. People could still call themselves Canadians. We could still travel, trade and peacefully coexist with each other despite a central union. In fact, peaceful relations are likely to strengthen if each province was allowed to 'do its own thing.'

Consider, if there was no Ottawa bureaucracy there would be no:

Equalization. No more subsidizing the non-productive at the expense of the productive. Maritime provinces, who are the biggest beneficiaries of equalization, would have to change and adapt to market demands. Fisheries have never had to correct their tragedy of the commons problem. Without a central government subsidizing the inefficient, these industries could fail and new innovative firms could take their place. Entrepreneurs could create real genuine wealth without having to resort to forcing money out of individuals.

Banking Oligopoly. If Canada's Big Five banks collapse, the entire country will go with them. And thus, the secret Fed bailouts, the constant subsidies and special "Chartered" regulations to prevent competition. Without Ottawa, banking could be returned to local communities where services could reflect real consumer demand. In addition, without Ottawa, central banking could be a thing of the past. While the Nation of Ontario may establish a new central bank, the Yukon Nation may not. Individuals could see which system was more efficient and relocate or lobby for the same treatment at home. Grand social experiments would no longer affect the entire population of Canada; things would be decentralized and more local.

Democracy. Again, more decentralized and local. Far more effective than electing a backbencher to Ottawa.

Culture. More diverse, less susceptible to political maneuverings. Quebec wouldn't be the only nation with a distinct culture.

Tyranny. Decentralization is a major tool against centralized tyranny. As Tom Woods summarizes,

"If the federal government is allowed to hold a monopoly on determining the extent of its own powers, we have no right to be surprised when it keeps discovering new ones. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power."

United States. It's likely that the American States would nullify Washington and break up into separate nations (again) before Canada attempted to. But if we did it first, then America wouldn't be too far behind. Surely, they wouldn't let those free-loading Canadians practice Jeffersonian States' Rights first! The break up of Canada could be the beginnings of a Free North America.

Medicare. Health-care would become the full responsibility of each provincial nation, and within these new nations, individuals could declare their health sovereignty. The stagnate ways of the old bureaucracy would vanish and with it, new innovations and delivery methods could arise. Predicting a health care industry without Ottawa would be like predicting the future of computers in the 1950's. Impossible.

These are just some of the highlights of a post-Confederated Canada. Like I said before, "Canada" and "Canadians" could still exist. You can call yourself a Canadian all you want. It's just that the definition of Canada would come to mean a different kind of country. Not one with a central government that dictates laws from a central hub, but a country where individuals share similar values yet govern themselves locally.

Canada could revolutionize how we think about nations and government.


  1. You can't spell culture without "cult"

  2. Interesting idea... thanks for sharing!