Liberals Say Harper Government’s Dictatorial Federalism Found To Be Unconstitutional


OTTAWA – Liberal Finance critic Scott Brison said Supreme Court decision to stop the proposed Securities Act shows that Conservative PM Stephen Harper fails to grasp Canadian democracy while continuing his dictatorial federalism approach.

“The Supreme Court justified the Liberal Party’s longstanding insistence that the Conservatives’ proposed Securities Act be reviewed on constitutional grounds. The Court’s opinion stands in sharp contrast to the Harper Government’s dictatorial approach to federalism, and leaves no question that the only path forward is one of cooperation with the provinces,” Brison said..

“With this matter, as with healthcare, democratic reform and justice issues, the Government’s preferred model was one of top down dictation rather than negotiation, consultation and cooperation. The Court makes clear that such unilateral action by the federal government would be unconstitutional but that a cooperative approach remains available. Today’s opinion leaves the Conservatives no option – if they are to respect the rule of the law, they must convene a First Ministers Meeting on this matter”

He said the Liberal Party continues to believe that the best approach to securities regulation is one that protects investors, promotes capital market efficiency and ensures that the unique expertise of every region of Canada is respected and maintained.

“It is also unfortunate that the Conservatives spent $27 million on a national securities commission transition office before waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s opinion. Had they listened to the Liberal Party, taxpayers would not have borne those costs,” he said

The Harper Conservatives’ were also taken to task on the sharp proposed cuts to health care funding.

“This unilateral decision by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to reduce transfer payments is an affront to the provinces and the very spirit and intent of the 2004 Health Accord. The 2004 Accord was about the federal and provincial governments working together towards transformative change to make our healthcare system sustainable,” said Liberal Health critic Dr. Hedy Fry.

“The Conservatives have walked away from the spirit of the Accord and reneged on their agreement to take a leadership role on specific measures, including pharmacare, home care, and health human resources. The Health Council of Canada has cited lack of federal leadership as one of the key reasons why real transformative change has not been realized in our healthcare system.”

The unilateral decision to reduce transfers diminishes the provinces’ ability to make transformative change that would sustain the healthcare system.

“This has always been Stephen Harper’s intent going back to his 2001 Open Letter to Ralph Klein where Mr. Harper states that provinces ‘should resume provincial responsibility for healthcare policy…[E]ach province should raise its own revenue for health,” Fry said.