Of course, there is a Canadian currency, and a Canadian Post Office, Military, Revenue Department, Foreign Affairs Department, etc...and the federal government is responsible for all navigable waters, and the national parks.
But think of the erosion of the Canada Health Act and its implications, the different kinds of education systems in each province, the different approach to two languages in the provinces, the different approach to Quebec and to the U.S. and to other provinces by each province. Examine the limited capacity of the federal government to get agreement on such matters as a national strategy for governing the financial services sector...
The threat from Quebec to separate is not merely a literal threat, it is also a metaphoric and a symbolic threat. The threat hangs over all decisions of the federal government, creating a milieu of anxiety, as well as a culture of provincial autonomy that handicaps the federal government, regardless of the party in power providing a model for the other provinces to push the envelope. No one can operate optimally in any organization under the threat of "break-up" of that organization. The threat colours every decision.
There is no doubt she (Quebec) is different culturally, and very important historically and she has generated new ideas for the federation and none of us wants to see her leave.
However, if we had treated our aboriginal peoples just half as courteously, compassionately and co-operatively as we have the people of Quebec, this would be a country of which we could be extremely proud!
However, holding the country hostage, virtually since 1970, is not an approach "up with which the rest of us can put".
We need a new arrangement for the federation, putting to rest the notion of secession from all provinces and territories for at least the next hundred years. If that means each government has to bend a little, to create a satisfactory compromise, to which all Canadian governments can and do agree, then let's assemble the best minds, the best negotiators,including a sizeable component of First Nations leaders, and the optimum strategic and tactical decisions as to process, and re-create the federation. And let's keep the media as far away from the conversations as possible, until an agreement is reached, signed, sealed and delivered. They have become a huge part of the problem of running any country! (But that is for another blog!)
For this writer, a new Canada would have a slightly more centralized focus, simply because we have much more in common to be proud of than we have to bicker about. And bickering, as we have done for the last two or three decades would never have brought about the creation of the country in the first place. Statemanship, the long view, the view that balances short, medium and long-term needs, and proposes new structures for research and for decision-making among Canadian leaders as well as providing a model for world leaders is necessary.
A shrinking world demands a new generation of structures and processes to keep us safe, fed, with access to clean water, clean air, effective health care and universal educational and employment opportunities and a guaranteed annual income.
This is no time for a country to be engaged in the kind of global threats we face, while also engaged in an internal struggle for power. It is not about "walking and chewing gum;" it is more about focussing the country on very significant goals, including greenhouse gases and climate change, preserving and enhancing the Canada Health Act, transitioning the education system from one that seeks to fill trade and professional holes, to one that generates creative problem-solvers, visionaries and artistic imaginations We need to have people highly educated in how to use the new technology, and how to prevent its domination of the human lives with which it interacts.Our universities have virtually become "trade schools" although the trades being taught and learned are the white collar variety.
We have become myopic micro-managers with a cynicism that precludes courage, vision and imagination, the three values all graduates of all programs, at all levels will need to survive, and to bring the best ideas to the world's decision-making fora. And Canada's contribution could be as a modest, creative and courageous visionary.