John Porter, “The Canadian Political System.” What is the argument/ explanation?
- Questions follow from that such as why did the author come to this conclusion?
- Is the author correct?
- If so, what does it tell us about Canadian politics?what is the authors contribution?
John Porter, “The Canadian Political System.” What is the argument/ explanation? Questions follow from that such as why did the author come to this conclusion?Is the author correct?If so, what does i
The vertical mosaic: an analysis of social class and power in Canada Author(s) Porter, John Imprint University of Toronto Press, 1965 Extent xxi, 626 p. ISBN 0802013570, 0802060552, 9780802060556 Permalink https://books.scholarsportal.info/en/read?id=/ ebooks/ebooks0/ gibson_crkn/2009-12-01/7/421025 Pages 389 to 408 Downloaded from Scholars Portal Books on 2021-09-11 T l charg de Scholars Portal Books sur 2021-09-11 CHAPTER XII The Canadian Political System CANADA’S POLITICAL system has not been neglected by social scientists. Historians, political scientists, and constitutional lawyers have provided a comprehensive picture of the development and formal operation of the major political institutions of the society. If there are any underlying themes in all this work they are the emergence of an independent state- hood for Canada, and the search for a “viable federalism” in which the relative importance of the federal and provincial governments changes in the process of their adapting to the paramount problems of the day. The material on Canadian political institutions is largely descriptive. With a few exceptions1 there is an absence of a political theory by which the descriptive materials take on some meaning. Although there are political theories general to all societies it seems necessary, as well, for particular societies to have theories about themselves. THE POLITICAL SYSTEM Canada has no resounding charter myth proclaiming a Utopia against which, periodically, progress can be measured. At the most, national goals and dominant values seem to be expressed in geographical terms such as “from sea to sea,” rather than in social terms such as “all men are created equal,” or “liberty, fraternity, and equality.” In the UnitedStates there is a Utopian image which slowly over time bends intractable social patterns in the direction of equality, but a Canadian counterpart of this image is difficult to find. The question which we are seeking to explore here is what does a political system do, what is its function in the total society? Clearly the 1One notable exception is C. B. Macpherson’s Democracy in Alberta (Toronto, 1953), in which is developed the theory of the quasi-party system. Canadian Political System 367 the function of the economic system is to produce a society’s wealth. But the function of a political system cannot be so clearly stated. Although there is unlikely to be agreement among social scientists, the view taken here is that the political system is the one through which the society as a group can achieve its major goals and values, if it has any. Undoubtedly major goals and values can be stated only in very general terms such as progress, a high standard of living, equality. Often these major values can be traced to some charter instrument such as a bill of rights or a constitution which has acquired, over time, a charismatic aura. These values will be reaffirmed periodically through social move- ments, such as Jeffersonian liberalism in the United States. They will also appear as recurring themes in a society’s literature. Because values and goals will be cast in general terms they can be appropriated by both conservative elements supporting the status quo and Utopian liberal elements seeking social change. Freedom can be seen as “wearing a crown” and also as being achieved by the breaking of imperial ties. However, unless there are values general to the society, it is difficult for the society to make judgments about its progress, although reference can be made to standards and values of other societies. In a discussion of the political system of the United States, Talcott Parsons has suggested that the value system centres on what he calls “instrumental activism.”2 The values against which actions are judged are cast in terms of economic adaptation or mastery of the physical con- ditions of life. There are general goals also of progress and improvement hi which economic production is the main instrument of advance. It is the task of the political system and the leadership roles within it to mobilize the society’s resources to these broad ends. In a differentiated pluralistic society there will not be general agreement on the means to be employed to reach these general values. There will, however, be some agreement on the ground rules. There are constitutional ground rules, but at the same time there is a body of political conventions which political parties observe, one of the most important being that the political party in power permits its rivals to exist. The two-party system is a functionally appropriate way of mediating the “conservative” and “progressive” social forces. In his discussion of right and left in American politics Parsons argues that the focus of the American right is the organization of the free 2Talcott Parsons, ” ‘Voting’ and the Equilibrium of the American Political System,” in E. Burdick and A. J. Brodbeck, American Voting Behavior (Glencoe, 111., 1959), 80ff. 368 The Structure of Power enterprise economy. The “right” becomes politically conservative because positive political action is seen as a threat to this free enterprise economy. The “left” on the other hand focuses on positive political action and is favourable to reform, to control of the economy, to the promotion of welfare, and to intervention in foreign affairs. These right and left foci distinguish in general terms the Republican and Democratic parties. Both parties seek to mobilize support. They alternate in office so that there is a swinging back and forth between the two dominant trends, but some dynamic development is achieved, because although the pres-sure for change comes from the left, and change is bitterly opposed by the right, the right, when it gets into office, does not destroy the advances made by the left. Although not all will agree that the Republican and Democratic parties are so distinguishable, it would be difficult to refute their respective foci to the right and left, the conservative and the pro- gressive. The important point here is that in political systems and throughpolitical parties there is a polarization of the progressive and conserva- tive forces, even though in the United States there is still a general acceptance of the view that the major goals of the society are achieved through the economic system rather than the political. This brief outline of Parsons’ analysis of the political dynamic hi the United States is not intended to suggest that a similar political process takes place in Canada. All too often Canadian social scientists draw analogies from American experience. Rather, Parsons’ account is a model of a political dynamic which results from a polarization of the right and the left. A similar model could be built from British experience. Marx, of course, also presented a model except that, for him, the polarization was so complete that mediation within the same normative order was impossible. NATIONAL UNITY: CANADA’S POLITICAL OBSESSION It would probably be safe to say that Canada has never had a political system with this dynamic quality. Its two major political parties do not focus to the right and the left. In the sense that both are closely linked with corporate enterprise the dominant focus has been to the right. One of the reasons why this condition has prevailed is that Canada lacks clearly articulated major goals and values stemming from some charter instrument which emphasizes progress and equality. If there is a major goal of Canadian society it can best be described as an integrative goal. Canadian Political System 369 The maintenance of national unity has overridden any other goals there might have been, and has prevented a polarizing, within the political system, of conservative and progressive forces. It has never occurred to any Canadian commentators that national unity might in fact be achieved by such a polarization. Rather a dissociative federalism is raised to the level of a quasi-religious political dogma, and polarization to right and left hi Canadian politics is regarded as disruptive. Con-sequently the main focus of Canadian politics has been to the right and the maintenance of the status quo. The reason that the Liberal party in Canada was hi office so many years until 1957 was not because it was a progressive party, but because it served Canada’s major goal of national unity. The major themes hi Canadian political thought emphasize those characteristics, mainly regional and provincial loyalties, which divide the Canadian population. Consequently integration and national unity must be a constantly reiterated goal to counter such divisive sentiments. The dialogue is between unity and discord rather than progressive and conservative forces. The question which arises is whether the discord- unity dialogue has any real meaning in the lives of Canadians, or whether it has become, in the middle of the twentieth century, a political technique of conservatism. Canada must be one of the few major indus- trial societies in which the right and left polarization has become deflected into disputes over regionalism and national unity. Canada’s major political and intellectual obsession, national unity, has had its effect on the careers of men who take on political roles. It has put a premium on the type of man whom we shall label the administra- tive politician and has discounted the professional political career in which creative politicians can assume leadership roles. Creative politics at the national level has not been known in Canada since before World War I when the westward thrust to Canada’s empire was still a major national goal. Since the empire of the west was secured national goals of development have not been known. Creative politics is politics which has the capacity to change the social structure in the direction of some major social goals or values. By mobilizing human resources for new purposes, it has the initiative in the struggle against the physical environment and against dysfunctional historical arrangements. Creative politics requires a highly developed political leadership to challenge entrenched power within other institu- tional orders. It succeeds in getting large segments of the population identified with the goals of the political system and in recruiting their energies and skills to political ends. 370 The Structure of Power THE SUFFRAGE AND SOCIAL RIGHTS Politics in industrial societies becomes polarized into conservative and progressive forces in part because the political system is the only system in which all members of the society participate. Not all have ownership rights in the economic system and there are great inequalities among those that do, because votes in the economic system are not one per person but one per share. In the political system all share a common status of citizenship. With universal adult suffrage the right to participate in the political system has led to the emergence, in the twentieth century, of social rights. The development of social rights has meant a very slow but gradual erosion of privilege. Social rights are the claims on the social system of all members of the society to a basic standard of living and to equal opportunities for education, health, and so forth. To achieve social rights governments have sponsored activities ranging from educational to medical and health insurance. In most industrial societies there is disagreement about how far these social rights should extend. For some, welfare measures are indispensable to the good life; for others they are seen as bringing about human and social rot. The fact remains, however, that ever since the propertyless and the underprivileged have been enfranchised political elites have been able to acquire power by offering piecemeal extensions of welfare. In Canada, as in other industrial societies, there has been some extension of social rights, although, because generally they fall within the sphere of the provinces, they are by no means uniform throughout the country. Their haphazard development has come aboutmore by the “demonstration effect” of their existence in other countries, than because they have formed the social philosophy of either of the two political parties which have been in power at the federal level. These two parties have also been adept at incorporating in their own pro- grammes, but not always in legislation, some of the progressive ideas of the minor parties. The right to participate in Canada’s political system is not one that was given quietly or easily. The history of the franchise is extraordinarily confused because of the varying provincial franchises which were used in federal elections between 1898 and 1917.3 Discussions about who should be enfranchised centred around the amount of property that was deemed necessary to give a person full political rights of citizenship. In 3This brief review of the federal franchise is based on Norman Ward, The Canadian House of Commons: Representation (Toronto, 1950), 21 Iff. Canadian Political System 371 a proposed federal statute in 1870 which would have established an income qualification of $400 a year, day labourers were to be excluded even though they might have earned $400 because, as Macdonald put it, “they had no abiding interest in the country.”4 Moreover, in considering changes in the franchise, political leaders were more concerned with their chances of remaining in or getting into power than with the theory of democracy. This attitude still remains in choosing new electoral boundaries. In 1903 the Privy Council had held, in hearing an appeal by a British Columbia Japanese Canadian, that the franchise “is a right and privilege which belongs only to those . . . upon whom the provincial legislature has conferred it.”5 The extraordinary war-time franchise of 1917, described by Professor Ward as “the most remarkable franchise act ever passed in Canada, and even possibly in the democratic world,”6 was an act devised to exclude as far as possible those considered unlikely to support the national government. Because of the limitation of the franchise, the first federal election with some semblance of manhood suffrage was 1900 and with universal suffrage, 1921. Professor Ward has calculated that in the election of 1911 one- quarter of the total population was enfranchised, and in 1921 about one-half of the total population.7 It is interesting that the arrival of uni- versal suffrage coincided with the end of the historic two-party system that had existed previously. Universal suffrage frees the political institutions from control by a class which benefits from a limited franchise. It therefore makes possible the building up of the political system into a system of power to counter the power of other institutional elites. The political system and its elite could become the dominant power system within the differentiated society. Universal suffrage alone does not bring this about. There must as well be, through political leadership and a social orientation to politics, a clarification of goals and a feeling of collective participation by the members. One of the reasons why this sense of collective participation has not yet developed in Canada is because the universal political right to participate is only decades old. In Canada, too, as we have seen earlier, the general level of education is too low to allow for intelligent participation. The absence of political orientation in labour organization is also a factor in weakening the political system. There is another reason, too, why the political system has been incap- able of generating its own power, that is, the belief that that government is best which governs least. In this ideology of western capitalism there is an express denial of the social benefit of political power. Historically, Vbid., 213. 5Ibid., 227. *lbid., 226. Ubid., 230. 372 The Structure of Power the erosion of autocratic political power came with the rise of entre- preneurial capitalism and the doctrine of laissez-faire. The democracy of universal suffrage could mean political power which is collective rather than autocratic. This kind of political power can be seen in the con- tinuing dialogue hi most industrial societies between conservative and progressive forces. Robert Lynd in his analysis of power in American society makes the distinction between “liberal democracy” which “yokes together a pro- fessedly democratic social structure and political system with a capitalist economy,” and “a version of democracy in which social structure and all institutions would have coherence in expressing and implementing democratic values.”8 This second he distinguishes from “liberal democracy” as a “thoroughgoing democracy” or a “society committed throughout to democratic ends.” Such a thoroughgoing democracy would presumably be one guided by the principle of distributive justice and one in which there was a sense of shared social purpose and collective participation in achieving social ends. Power can be, as Lynd has said, a social resource in achieving widely desired ends. It has been argued in some of the chapters on social class in Canada not only that values of distributive justice are contra- dicted by the existence of class differences, but that a great deal of social potential and human ability necessary for a society’s development and survival is wasted. In many respects the release of a society’s creativity can come about only through its political system. A society in which the major goals are achieved through the political system and in which the sense of collective aims and values is strong may create an image of a monolithic structure of government and a homogeneity of thought. Such an image is a major weapon of the entrenched elites in seeking to pre- vent the emergence of political power as a social force. Whether or not there can be collective goals hi a differentiated society, whether or not these goals can be achieved through a thoroughgoing democracy without bringing about a monolithic homogeneity in social life cannot here be answered. Obviously a great deal of institutional experimentation is necessary to avoid monolithic government, and social experiments require power. In Canada, in any case, such a political system is a long way from emerging. Our task is to try to discover how at present the political elite functions in relation to the elites of other institutional orders. In the following chapter we shall deal with inferences which can be made from 8Robert S. Lynd, “Power in American Society,” in A. Kornhauser, ed., Problems of Power in American Democracy (Detroit, 1957), 6. Canadian Political System 373 studying the careers of leading politicians. Because politicians work through political parties, and in Canada in a federal system, some obser- vations on Canadian political parties and Canadian federalism would seem appropriate to help interpret the political career data which follow. Many will disagree with the observations because the latter contain subjective appraisals and some speculative remarks. However, somespeculation is called for because nothing is so striking in Canada of the 1960’s as the society’s incapacity to meet its internal and external prob- lems. For this situation much of the fault lies in the political system. MAJOR PARTIES: THE CONSERVATIVE TONE The most significant characteristic of the two parties which have held power at the national level in Canada is the fact that they share the same conservative values. Both have at times been responsible for reform legislation which might suggest progressive values, but these steps to the left have been taken more with a spirit of opportunism than from a basic orientation to social progress and change. The Progressive Conservative party has been ingenious enough to incorporate the political dynamic within its name. As some of its opponents have suggested it is neither conservative nor progressive, but has remained opportunistic. Both parties have produced successive contingents of administrative poli- ticians. The political dialogue, if it can be called such, in which they participate is not related to any basic class differences in the society from which the conservative-progressive dynamic might arise. It is not that Canadian social structure is so static that it has no immanent potential for dynamic politics; it is rather that Canada’s basically opportunistic parties have not harnessed this potential in the political system. They have either ignored these basic social differences or covered them up in the pretence that they do not exist. Both politicians and intellectuals, on those occasions when they deal with political issues, have defined the political task, not in terms of creative policies, but rather in terms of interstitial compromises between competing interests. In his introduction to Mackenzie King’s diaries, Mr. J. W. Pickersgill states that “Mackenzie King genuinely believed and frequently said that the real secret of political leadership was more in what was prevented than what was accomplished.”9 Mr. Pickersgill did not elaborate on his own further statement, “yet his objectives were »J. W. Pickersgill, The Mackenzie King Record, vol. I (Toronto, 1960), 10. 374 The Structure of Power by no means negative,” except to say that, between the Liberal conven- tion of 1919 and the end of his political career, Mackenzie King had reached his destination. According to Canada’s two most outstanding political scientists, J. A. Corry and R. M. Dawson, Canada’s two indistinguishable political parties are functionally appropriate for Canadian society. The views of these two men are important because it is mainly through their writings, and their students who have become teachers, that later generations of Canadian students are introduced to Canada’s political system. Corry sees party politicians as brokers of ideas selecting among those that are, current in the society the ones that appeal to the largest calculable number of voters.10 They are brokers in another sense, too. They arrange deals between different sections of opinion, or interest groups, by working out the necessary compromises. If these are the tasks of political parties and political leaders their function is not to provide a conservative-progressive dialogue in terms of general social values, but simply to make available an “alternative” government. Elections become choices between one set of brokers and another. In a democracy there must be an alternative government to keep the incumbent government aware of its responsibilities. Corry makes the point that, if this alterna- tive party was an ideological one deeply committed to principles, the social divisions which would follow would be so great that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep the nation together. Yet to obscuresocial divisions through brokerage politics is to remove from the political system that element of dialectic which is the source of creative politics. The choice between genuinely radical and genuinely conservative tradi- tions could mean a period of creative politics followed by a period of consolidation as conservatives and radicals oscillated in and out of office. That at least would provide a two-party system suitable to parliamentary institutions, the debating of values, and the clarification of social goals. To make brokerage politics work it is necessary at election time to rouse the voters from political somnolence and try to make them identify with one of the parties. When parties are without distinguishable social values voters have no commitments other than those arising from uncritical family traditions or habit. Consequently the parties require at election time an enormous “once for all” organization which takes large sums of money. On the whole these sums are not obtained from thou-sands of small individual contributions, but instead are obtained much more efficiently from wealthy benefactors. Because the parties do not 10J. A. Corry, Democratic Government and Politics (Toronto, 1946), Chap. VI. Canadian Political System 375 differ in principle, the wealthy benefactors support both main parties. It is often suggested, although no evidence has ever been produced, that corporate benefactors, in particular, give 60 per cent of their contribu- tion to the party in power and 40 per cent to the party that might succeed to power. In any case, the war chests of the two parties both seem to be full, allowing them to charter aircraft, print mountains of literature, rent fleets of limousines, and buy extensive advertising space on television and radio and in the newspapers. Millions of dollars spent on political education could be a good thing for the functioning of the political system, but when it is concentrated in a few weeks before elections and on devices scarcely designed to educate, the function is questionable. Corry accepts as inevitable these aspects of brokerage politics because in his view the role of the politician is simply to reflect the selfish aims of the various sections of the society and to make compromises between them. He recognizes that there are some unattractive features of this system but his strongest words of indictment are: “It would not be correct to say that party policy has been uninfluenced by contributions to party funds”; and “The parties deceive the public, but so do propa- gandists of every kind.”11 Corry’s conclusion about the party system is that “. . . the evils in the party system are the outcome of general human frailties. Indeed it is hard to see how the parties which must woo the electorate with success can do other than reflect its vices and its virtues.”12 He sees little need for political education and political leader- ship. Dawson, too, recognized and accepted the facts of Canadian political life, although he suggested that historically there have been differences between the parties which still influence their attitudes.13 The Conserva- tives have been more conscious of the Empire tie, while the Liberals have been more nationalistic; the Conservatives have been a high tariff party and the Liberals a freer trade party; the Conservatives have been more concerned with strengthening the powers of the central government while the Liberals have been more anxious to maintain provincial rights; the Conservatives have been the party of free enterprise, while the Liberals have professed “to take the lead in public ownership and pro-gressive social legislation.”14 Dawson claimed that these tendencies or biases still exist within the parties, although he admitted that their records on these issues have been confused and inconsistent. Dawson also concluded that “a national party must take as its primary uibid., 138, 139. ™lbid. 13R. M. Dawson, The Government of Canada (Toronto, 1948), SOlff. 14/tott, 506. 376 The Structure of Power purpose the reconciliation of the widely scattered aims and interests of a number of areas.”15 Elections then are fought on minor issues and often the distinction between the parties is nothing more than a choice between personalities. “Finally the opportunism—and one may fairly say, the inescapable opportunism—embedded in the Canadian party system tends to minimize the importance of the platform and emphasize the importance of the party leaders. . . .”ie For more than thirty years, Frank H. Underbill has asked provocative questions about the Canadian political system. In his collected essays, In Search of Canadian Liberalism, he expresses conflicting views. One is the view of the orthodox political scientist: “a political party that aspires to the responsibility of government must not be a class party, but must be a loosely knit representative collection of voters from all groups.” “National unity is preserved by having every interest-group effectively inside the party which controls the government.”17 Thesequotations are from an essay written in 1950 praising the contributions of Mackenzie King to Canada. In other essays, too, he seems to feel that there is an inescapable logic in having, in the North American situation, all-embracing parties where the tensions within the society are resolved within the parties rather than between the parties. On the other hand Underbill feels the need for creative leadership in political life. This can occur only when politicians have a vision that is greater than the sum of the special interests of particular groups. Under- bill has deplored the lack of conservative thought in the Conservative party and of liberal thought in the Liberal party. He admired Franklin D. Roosevelt and regretted that Canada never had a New Deal. In 1932 Underbill pointed out the inadequacy of the Canadian party system: “a party which depends for success upon the different and often con- tradictory appeals which it must make to different sectional interests will become dependent upon and responsive to those interest-groups which are best organized and most strategically located for applying effective pressure upon the party leaders.”18 The two groups which could apply the most pressure he thought were the Catholic church in Quebec and big business. The real function of the two-party system since the Laurier era “has been to provide a screen behind which the controlling business interests pull the strings to manipulate the Punch and Judy who engage hi mock combat before the public.”19 ^Ibid., 508. ie/fc/W., 510. “Frank H. Underbill, In Search of Canadian Liberalism (Toronto, 1960), 136- 37. 18/6W., 167. Wbid., 168. Canadian Political System 377 In 1940 there appeared a book by Pendleton Herring, The Politics o] Democracy,20 which has influenced a whole generation of Canadian political scientists in their attitudes to political parties. It was Herring who expounded with great force the doctrine of brokerage politics. Underbill’s estimate of Mackenzie King was that he had developed brokerage politics to a fine art. However, despite what he was to say about King in 1950, Underbill felt in 1943 that Herring’s views about political parties were not altogether applicable to Canada, in part because the moderate polarization which had taken place between Republican and Democratic parties in the United States had not taken place between the two major parties in Canada despite the fact that World War I and the depression had created a new class structure. It was the new parties which appeared to give expression to this new class structure. “In dealing with these new conflicts among group interests the old parties were too much under the control of one class group to function as honest brokers any more.”21 By 1960 the two major parties were still trying to function as brokers. Not even a moderate polarization had taken place. Consequently dynamic politics to mobilize the creative energies of the society were still absent. PARTIES OF POLITICAL PROTEST In some respects the emergence of minor parties in the provinces can be viewed as populist protest against the established order. As a result of the social changes which have taken place in the country, some of which have been described in the earlier chapters on social class, there has always been a large number of people who experience deprivation. It is their feelings which can be exploited by the minor parties at the provincial level.22 These populist reactions can also be seen at the federal level with the Progressives, the Social Credit, and the C.C.F. (New Democratic) parties. The existence of these minor parties has meant that only rarely does the victorious party acquire a majority of the popular vote. Mr. Diefenbaker’s appeal in 1958 can also be interpreted as a populist one. His vision caught the imagination not only of the deprived, 2°Pendleton Herring, The Politics of Democracy: American Parties in Action (New York, 1940). 21Underhill, In Search of Canadian Liberalism, 198. 22See the discussion in James Mallory, Social Credit and the Federal Power in Canada (Toronto, 1954), 153ff. 378 The Structure of Power but also of the not so deprived but financially insecure, the heavily mort- gaged suburban homeowner.23 Because the appeals of the minor parties run the range of the rational-irrational continuum, from social demo- cratic humanism to reactionary fundamentalism, as a political force they are fragmented even though they appeal to the same social groups. The electoral success of the minor parties has been confined to the provinces. The Social Credit party in Alberta was in its early days a populist social movement led by its charismatic leader William Aber- hart.24 Its original aim was, through monetary and financial reforms, to free Alberta rural society from its indebtedness to eastern financial interest. Most of its goals were obstructed by disallowance and judicial decisions, and with the return of prosperity during and after World War II it became a traditional conservative party making occasional fanfares of Christian fundamentalism. In British Columbia the Social Credit party which has been in office since 1952 may also be labelled a conservative party even though it is, as described by some, opportunistic and nihilistic to the point of being anti-ideological.25 After the break-up of the Liberal- Conservative coalition which had been formed to keep the C.C.F. party from power in British Columbia there was no other political party to which the corporate and conservative elements could give their support. Although the C.C.F. never won an election in British Columbia the presence of a strong socialist movement, which it represents, has pro- vided some polarization of politics in the province. The N.D.P., the successor to the C.C.F., has a social philosophy similar to that of the social democratic parties of Europe. In Saskatchewan the C.C.F. party did acquire power in 1944 and retained it until 1964. In many respects it was an instrument of social change and a progressive force not only in the one province but in the country as a whole where it became a pace-setter in reform legislation. If there have been any creative politics in Canada in recent years, it was probably to be found in Saskatchewan. Even in Saskatchewan, however, the fact that the C.C.F. was in power for so long suggests that the conservative-progressive dialogue was weak because the opposing Liberal party had no counter-philosophy. Except for one brief period, 1919 to 1923, Ontario has been ruled by 23For an analysis along these lines see S. D. Clark, “Group Interests in Canadian Politics,” in J. H. Aitchison, ed., The Political Process in Canada (Toronto, 1963). 24There has been a series of studies on Social Credit in Alberta. See particularly John Irving, The Social Credit Movement in Alberta (Toronto, 1959), and Mallory, Social Credit and the Federal Power. 26See the interesting analysis by Donald V. Smiley, “Canada’s Poujadists: A New Look at Social Credit,” Canadian Forum, Sept. 1962. Canadian Political System 379 Liberals or Conservatives. Parties with opposing values have made little headway. On one occasion the Liberal party harboured a leader of popu- list revolt, Mitchell Hepburn, but he soon became aligned to the corpo- rate elite and so passed from the scene without any trace of political creativity. In Quebec, a similar populist appeal brought Maurice Duplessis’ Union Nationale party to power in 1936 for three years, and again in 1944 for seventeen years. Duplessis was formerly a Conserva- tive and his long regime in Quebec can best be described as a reactionary coalition with economic and ecclesiastical power. Some movement towards the progressive pole can be seen with the present Quebec Liberal party which won power in 1960 and which contains in its leadership some who claim to be socialists. Although it is by no means a socialist party it is strongly committed to reform, but its reformist values have become confused with its nationalist sentiments. In all the other provinces Liberals and Conservatives have shared power while other parties have made scarcely a ripple on the political waters. What little polarization there has been in Canadian politics has remained within the provinces rather than within the national system. CANADIAN FEDERALISM: SOME OBSERVATIONS The one aspect of Canadian political structure which has received more attention than any other from historians, political scientists, and constitutional lawyers is the federal system. All the rationalizing on the part of royal commissions, politicians, and judges in Canada and the United Kingdom that has gone into constructing theories of Canadian federalism provides an unlimited field for scholarly activity. There is no intention here of reviewing this material.26 It is important, however, to keep in mind that political parties and the careers of politicians are determined very frequently by the institutions in which they work. But at critical periods in a society’s development political leaders can, if they have the ability, overcome institutional fetters and create new social arrangements. The relationship between political leadership and political institutions need not be a one-way influence; it can be a reciprocal one. In the course of their histories most federal systems have seen a 26More recent discussions of Canadian federalism which have been helpful are: the essays in A. R. M. Lower et al., Evolving Canadian Federalism (Durham, N.C., 1958); D. V. Smiley, “The Rowell-Sirois Report, Provincial Autonomy, and Post-War Canadian Federalism,” C.J.E.P.S., XXVIII, no. 1 (Feb. 1962); and the papers by P.-E. Trudeau and F. R. Scott in M. Oliver, ed., Social Purpose for Canada (Toronto, 1961). 380 The Structure of Power gradual lessening of the power of the individual states comprising them and an increase in the power of their central governments. With the conditions of modern industrial society and international relations it is almost essential that the central government acquire power at the expense of the provincial or state governments. Although this shift has taken place in Canada it has not taken place to the extent that it has, for example, in the United States or Australia. Moreover the shift that has taken place came so late that a rigidity of thought, both juridical and political, still governs the political processes. Social and political thought are partly the product of the social arrangements that exist, but if they were completely so, there would be no movement forward, no change. When Canadian politicians make pronouncements about Canadian federalism it is difficult to tell whether they are prisoners of a social mentality about federalism, or whether, in a machiavellian fashion, they are using federalism as an instrument of power or as an excuse not to exercise power. A federal system is often seen as a device to decentralize power, but it can also be used as an instrument to acquire and consolidate power, and to maintain economically inefficient and socially out-dated and dysfunctional activities. It was suggested in an earlier chapter, for example, that because the Canadian educational system depends on the provinces it can not be geared to current demands of the labour force or to the principles of equality. Most commentators on Canadian federalism seem to agree that as the system has developed there has been a turning back from the inten- tions of the creative politicians who brought about the federation and who governed it in the first thirty years of its existence. As Professor Wheare has pointed out, it is difficult to say whether Canada was pro- vided with a federal constitution with unitary modifications or a unitary government with federal modifications.27 The unified judicial system, the federal powers of disallowance and appointment, and other elements suggest at least the intention of a strong central government. Yet gradually through the decisions of judges in the United Kingdom, whose knowledge of Canada could at the most be slight, the relative weight of responsibility went to the provinces and away from the central govern- ment. The federalism which resulted from the decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council left Canada after the 1930’s politically and socially incapacitated. Yet it must not be thought that judges alone were to blame, because 27See the discussion in F. R. Scott, “French Canada and Canadian Federalism,” in Evolving Canadian Federalism, Canadian Political System 381 judges make decisions on issues brought before them and issues are brought to the courts by people who have the power to bring them. In one of the most illuminating discussions of Canadian federalism,28 Professor Mallory has shown how vested economic interests challenged both provincial and Dominion legislation as being ultra vires, if that legislation meant a regulatory encroachment on the economic system. With the growth of industrialization and a concomitant extension of the franchise, which in Canada became universal with the election of 1921, politicians were required to make appeals to, or heed the desires of, new social forces. When their policies became redistributive in character, these policies were vitiated through successful appeals to the courts. In a federal country, those resisting [regulation] were able to cloak their economic motives in a concern for the public interest by raising doubts as to the power of the legislature to enact laws to which they objected. This course was most effective where the legislature whose jurisdiction they were defending was the least favourable to economic regulation or least able to make its regulation effective. . . . Even in cases where a statute had been referred to the courts for an opinion on its validity there is reason to believe that objection often existed more to its purpose than to its source.29 Thus a federal constitution, although purporting to prevent the centrali- zation of political power, can become an instrument for the entrench- ment of economic power. Although World War II saw a great increase in the activities of the central government, judicial pronouncements up until that time left Canadian governments incapable of dealing with contemporary prob- lems or of assuming a creative role. They left Canadians with an attitude of despair and an outlook on their society as bleak as some parts of the land whose resources they were seeking to exploit. Moreover, these judicial decisions built up nine (ten with the entrance of Newfoundland in 1949) strong provincial stages on which politicians could act out their roles, creating within the provinces systems of power which had a disso- ciative effect on the whole of the society, and particularly on the national political system. Provincial political leaders, their corresponding bureau- cracies, and party organizations have acquired vested interest in their own power, and the themes of their political rhetoric emphasize local and provincial differences. Because nobody has examined the problems with any thoroughness it is difficult to know whether or not provincial electorates who collectively make up the federal electorate share the views about federalism that are 28Mallory, Social Credit and the Federal Power. &Ibid., 32. 382 The Structure of Power held by the political elite and the political scientists. It is often assumedwithout any evidence that they do.30 Almost anyone who has taken part in electioneering can tell how confused the mass of the electorate is on which matters belong to provincial governments and which to the federal government. Because even in federal elections electorates seem more concerned with immediate, local problems, such as housing, health, and marketing, they address questions to federal candidates which should properly be addressed to their provincial members. In the absence of evidence from survey studies it might be speculated that federalism, in the sense that it divides powers between the provinces and the central government, cannot be comprehended by vast segments of the electorate. The Dogma of Cultural Particularism Some of the hallowed nonsense that goes into the theory of Canadian federalism is that each of the provinces constitutes a particular culture which federalism safeguards, but with the exception of Quebec it is never made clear just what these cultural differences are, or if the differ- ences exist why they are more important than the similarities. It was suggested in an earlier chapter that Canadian history has taken place in a demographic railway station and that these were difficult conditions under which to develop collective sentiments and values. But neither are they the conditions that should result in strong sectionalism. Inter-pro- vincial migration, modern means of travel and communication, economic integration through the growth of the national corporation, all suggest that any theory of sectionalism or cultural particularism needs to be re-examined. Most provinces, New Brunswick and Manitoba are strikingexamples, have a greater variety of particular cultures within them than between them. It is difficult to see how these intra-provincial cultures are protected by federal institutions per se. Another argument in favour of federalism is that regions and provinces have specialized economic activities and that these require strong provincial governments to safe- guard and develop them. But equally strong counter-arguments could be made that regional economies could be better developed and better planned through integrative policies at the national level. National corporations undertake such integrative policies when, for example, coal mines are closed down in Nova Scotia from offices in Montreal. 30Professor Jewett has provided some fairly thin evidence from answers to public opinion polls that: “Apparently ‘provincial rights’ was not the prerogative solely of status-seeking provincial politicians” (Pauline Jewett, “Political and Administra- tive Aspects of Policy Formation,” in T. N. Brewis et al., Canadian Economic Policy (Toronto, 1961), 295). The public opinion poll data which she uses were from the 1940’s before the great social changes of the 1950’s. Even so, 25 per cent of respondents were prepared to abolish the provincial governments! Canadian Political System 383 One important value which is supported by federalism is the decen- tralization of government activity, and the prevention of the growth of a single monolithic state machinery. Federalism therefore safeguards liberty. Again a counter-argument could be made that liberties can be denied as well as safeguarded through strong provincial governments. What liberties Canadians have, in the absence of constitutional guaran- tees, have been defined in the decisions of the Canadian Supreme Court against provincial governments. There is no doubt that as the “mass society” develops, regionalism, local autonomy, and group differences should be fostered, but there is no reason to argue that they can be safeguarded and fostered only through a federal instrument which inhibits creative politics and prevents the emergence of that social power which lies in the creative energies of the whole society. There are many other ways in which the “evils” of centralized bureaucracy can be controlled. Quebec without doubt is a special case where there is validity in the notion of cultural particularism, but as Quebec becomes more industrial- ized it will become culturally more like other industrialized societies. At that time the similarities in social characteristics which its urbanized population will share with other provinces may be far more important in terms of future social development than whatever differences remain. In the past, public sentiments in Quebec, which arise from the particular culture in that province, have been exploited in the interests of power as much as they have been protected by provincial autonomy. The low occupational level of French Canadians, the rigidity of French-Canadian class structure, and the authoritarian character of French-Canadian insti- tutions are as much a consequence of the power enjoyed by French- Canadian provincial politicians in coalition with “alien” corporate powers as they are a consequence of domination by the British charter group.31 In fact French-speaking Canadians and other Catholic groups outside of Quebec may well have fared better as provincial minorities, if education, for example, had been more a federal responsibility than a provincial one. Co-operative Federalism Since World War II Canadian federalism has acquired a new charac- teristic called “co-operative federalism” in which the federal and pro- vincial governments participate in the provision of services particularly hi the field of health and welfare. A wide range of governmental activity has grown up in this way without formal constitutional changes: “The 31Cf. Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, “Some Obstacles to Democracy in Quebec,” CJ.E.P.S., XXIV, no. 3 (Aug. 1958). 384 The Structure of Power federal aspects of the Canadian constitution, using the latter term in its broadest sense, have come to be less what the courts say they are than what the federal and provincial cabinets and bureaucracies in a con- tinuous series of formal and informal relations determine them to be.”32 The question most frequently asked about these changes is whether provincial autonomy or federal “usurpation” has won out as a result of co-operative federalism. The answer seems to be that neither has, but rather that there is a “process of continuous and piecemeal adjustment between the two levels of government which is still going on.”33 There is little wonder that electorates are confused about where responsibilities lie when assessing the various services that come from provincial and federal governments, or from both. Defenders of provincial autonomy will argue that if provincial govern- ments do not produce the services electorates want (their wants are supposedly derived from their particular cultures) provincial electorates will throw out their governments. But provincial electorates collectively are also the federal electorate, and when they behave as such their cul- tural particularisms presumably do not operate. Yet federal politicians make the same kind of appeals for extensions of services as provincial politicians. Neither provincial nor federal politicians do much to clarify for electorates the “piecemeal” federal system which has emerged. Because the distribution of powers that now exists between the two levels of government taxes the capacity of the constitutional lawyer and the political scientist to understand it, and because it provides for a series of courses in the political science departments of universities it is difficult to see what provincial autonomy means for vast segments of the elec- torate. Consequently, it may be speculated that federalism as such has meaning only for politicians and senior civil servants who work with the complex machinery that they have set up, as well as for the scholars who provide a continuing commentary on it, but that it has very little meaning for the bulk of the population. In this sense the myths that go to support the continued fragmentation of the political system need some critical examination. In one important aspect, that is, in the responsibility which the central government has taken to stabilize the economic system, Canadian federalism has changed in the post World War II period. This change does not arise so much from changed attitudes to federalism on the part of elites as it does from the “Keynesian revolution” which has resulted in 32Smiley, “The Rowell-Sirois Report, Provincial Autonomy, and Post-War Canadian Federalism,” 59. **Ibid., 58. Canadian Political System 385 the assumption of these responsibilities in all western governments, federal or unitary. In Canada this increased role of the federal govern- ment has been possible because of its power over fiscal and monetary policy, and also over defence. In a federal system the policies of the various governments are always open to challenge through the courts. The recent increased power of the central government through economic policies has gone unchallenged, suggesting that there has emerged a new relationship between the federal government and the corporate elite.34 The latter is interested in the stability that the former can provide. In addition, defence contracts, and also some of those arising from the co-operative activities between the two levels of government, have made the federal government directly and indirectly industry’s best customer. The increase in foreign ownership and in the importance of international trade has also brought the corporate elite into a closer relationship with the federal government. One significant area hi which this shift has not taken place is in labour relations. Here the corporate elite benefits from provincial powers which inhibit uniform labour standards across the country. Federalism can provide an excuse for federal politicians not acting against the interests of the corporate economy. It is not the intention here to argue for the complete abandonment of federalism, but rather to point out that as it has developed Canadian federalism has imposed a conservative tone on the Canadian political system and political parties, and has inhibited creative political leader- ship. If Canada has any political charter it lies in a theory of federalism which has built into it some doubtful sociological assumptions. For federal political leaders, federalism may have a certain political reality which they feel they can ignore only at their peril. How much this political reality is a reflection of power interests within the provinces, and how much it is a reflection of general public sentiment cannot be said without further extensive investigation. However real or unreal in sociological terms, and however it might be changing in the light of recent economic and social change, federalism has been for political parties, and the political elite we are about to examine, an important condition in the exercise of power. A system in which scope for political leadership is limited because of real, or assumed, cultural particularism or sectional interests, means that it is difficult for the professional political career to develop. Thus, as we shall see, along with brokerage politics, which is said to be appropriate for Canada, there is also avocational politics with a conservative tone. 34Cf. J. A. Corry, “Constitutional Trends and Federalism,” in Evolving Canadian Federalism.