Discussing the details of the British North America Act of 1867, assess the kind of federal state the British North American political leadership was trying to create. What were the broad goals of Confederation?
The Dominion of Canada, the principles of which were presented in the British North America Act of 1867, became a unique example of a new federal state. The Canadian federalism was developed by political leaders in opposition to the variant of the US federalism, and the leaders’ broad goals were associated with creating a strong centralized state aimed to overcome conflicts in the relations of the French and British Canadians.
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Referring to the details and principles presented in the British North America Act of 1867, it is possible to note that a unique kind of a federal state created by the British North American leaders was a highly centralized and powerful state where the federal government had the maximum power, and provinces have the minimal power. The focus was on the control of all the spheres of the economic life in the state in order to achieve the goals of the Northwest expansion and avoid failures associated with the US pattern of federalism resulted in the Civil War.
The British North American political leaders had in mind not only the pattern of their developing state but also the reminder about the US failure. As a result, the Canadian political leaders became oriented to creating the opposite and most successful variant of the federal state. The powerful federal government was discussed by the leaders as the approach to solving a range of political, economic, and social problems.
An idea about the powerful federal state was closely associated with the idea of centralization (Laxer Lecture 5). The Americans failed to build a centralized country, and they provided much power to the states. Instead, the Canadian leaders focused on the Confederation project according to which the Canadian Parliament was the centre in the created governmental system.
In order to assess the success of the created federal state, it is necessary to refer to the principles reflected in the British North America Act of 1867. The Act includes enlisted powers of the Parliament and powers of the provincial legislatures (Laxer Lecture 5). While comparing these powers, it is possible to state that the main legal and economic instruments were controlled by the federal government.
Thus, the federal government received revenues through direct and indirect taxes when provincial governments had the access only to the direct taxes. Moreover, the ‘spending power’ was an important control power in the hands of the federal government in order to spend resources and establish important programs in provinces (Laxer Confederation). In addition, the control over banking and financial system provided the federal government with the significant power.
Finally, the control over building the railways provided the federal government with the resources to contribute to the Northwest expansion. On the one hand, the power of the federal government provided the opportunity to create the centralized state. On the other hand, the development of the provincial legislatures was prohibited. The consequences of these strategies were the creation of the economically powerful state based on the stable political course.
Assessing the role of the Act’s principles for the progress of the Dominion, it is important to note that the Act contributed to the future successful development of the state. The secret was in providing an effective pattern based on the ideals of federalism and presented in the form of the highly structured and federally controlled system. The Canadian political leaders were oriented to resolving the problem of the developed conflict between the French Canadian and British Canadian territories. Furthermore, they proposed the plan of actions for the future while distributing the power in the state (Laxer Lecture 5). It is possible to assume that the main goal was the creation of the effective railway system in order to connect the Canadian provinces with the Maritimes.
The analysis of the situation in the United States helped the Canadian political leaders not only develop their vision of the federal state but also reform the existing patterns in order to use the benefits associated with the economic and social spheres. The political leaders promoted the idea that the state can be strong when it is highly centralized. In order to build a centralized state, it was necessary to contribute more to the national projects of building railways to connect the Canadian regions and support the Northwest expansion.
To spend a lot of resources on the project, it was necessary to provide the federal government with the power to do that. Thus, the distribution of powers among the federal government and provincial governments was logical and supported with the political leaders’ broad goals.
The idea of building the Canadian centralized state can be discussed as successful because the political leaders tried to address in the British North America Act of 1867 all the main political, economic, and social issues associated with the realization of this idea. In order to forget conflicts in the relations between the French and British Canadians, it was important to build a strong state where the focus was on the political and economic stability and on the Northwest expansion.
The guidelines to rule a state provided in the British North America Act of 1867 served as effective principles according to which the political authorities built a new federal state. On the one hand, the limited powers could be evaluated by the provincial governments as negative aspects. On the other hand, the centralized power provided provinces with much more benefits because of the development of the federal economy (Laxer Confederation). The authorities could encourage foreign investors to spend on the Canadian railways, and the federal control was necessary in managing that question.
Thus, the focus on the centralized power was beneficial for the Dominion of Canada from the political and economic perspectives. A strong centralized state could control national projects and spend resources according to the provinces’ needs and while following the national idea. The British North American leaders tried to create a powerful state which could combine the positive features of strong centralized governments and avoid the failures similar to the failure of the United States to build the powerful federation. The ideal of the powerful state was opposite to that of the US pattern.
That is why, the Canadian political leaders focused on centralizing economy, on the control over the banking system, on the control over such important national projects as the railway project, on the control of spending, and on the control of taxes. From this perspective, broad goals of Confederation were the Northwest expansion through the railway project and the creation of the powerful federal state. Moreover, the goal of the leaders was the creation of the powerful federal country by means of building the highly centralized state.
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A major goal of the current Canadian government has been to open the way for Canada to become an “energy superpower”. Central to this has been the rise of the production of petroleum in the Alberta oil sands. Discuss the economic and environmental pros and cons of the rising production of petroleum in the Alberta oil sands
The focus on the development of the Alberta oil sands as the energetic centre of Canada was realized by the Harper government, and it is also associated with a range of benefits for the economy of the country. The reasons to speak about the benefits are in the fact that the increased production of petroleum obviously leads to the improvement of the economic situation in the country. However, the problem is in the fact that the production of petroleum is a complex and expensive process which is associated with many economic and environmental challenges. Thus, these challenges can influence the whole role of the oil production for the country’s economy.
That is why, to conclude about the success of the Harper government’s focus on the Alberta oil sands, it is necessary to discuss pros and cons of the increased petroleum production in this region. First, it is important to discuss the economic issues. Then, the attention should be paid to the effects of the development of the oil sands’ region on the environment.
Increases in production of petroleum are often discussed in light of the expected economic benefits because the strategies for developing the certain sector or industry are designed to achieve some profits. Thus, discussing the pros of focusing on the oil production in the Alberta oil sands, it is important to note that the increased production leads to rising the amounts of the exported oil and to rising the economic status of Canada at the global arena. The Alberta oil sands have the great potential for the oil production’s development and for Canada to become the important petroleum exporter in the world.
Contributing to the petroleum production associated with the Alberta oil sands, the government can expect significant increases in the daily production of oil in Canada. Eight million barrels of oil produced during a day in the coming future are discussed as a real number which can contribute to the economic progress of the country significantly (Laxer Lecture 7). The prognosis for the future states that Canada can gain the reputation similar to the reputation of Saudi Arabia in the world of oil production. While focusing on the development of the oil production in the Alberta oil sands, Canada can create many job places, the country can overcome the problem of unemployment, and the government can stimulate the whole economy of the country because of expected great investments.
The opposite side of rising the petroleum production in the region is the creation of economic barriers for the development of other industries in Canada and the increases in spending in the oil sands’ production because of the significant costs associated with the process. The financial sector influencing the progress of the country’s economy depends on the changes in global and domestic oil prices (Laxer Lecture 7). Any changes in prices affect not the oil industry, but the country’s economy. Focusing on the improvement of the petroleum production in the Alberta oil sands, the Canadian government pays less attention to the progress of the other industries (Laxer Lecture 7).
The result of such a strategy is the crisis which can be observed in many economic sectors. Expecting the increases in prices and investments, it is possible to overlook the starting point of the economic crisis in the state because any changes in the global market leads to changes in the industry. Furthermore, the oil in the region is difficult to be extracted, and strip mining on a vast scale is a necessary strategy to produce required amounts of petroleum (Laxer Lecture 7). From this perspective, the whole process of the petroleum production is expensive, and more resources such as money, water, and gas are needed to realize the government’s intentions.
There are also environmental pros and cons associated with the rising oil production in the Alberta oil sands. One of the environmental pros which can be discussed in light of the development of the oil production in the Alberta oil sands is the reformation of the environmental policies in Canada (Laxer Lecture 7). This step can be considered as rather positive because new environmental policies are developed in order to respond to the most urgent ecological issues discussed in the state.
Moreover, it is possible to associate the increase in the petroleum production with the development of new projects necessary to support the environment and the adequate use of natural resources in the country.
The main negative effect of increasing the petroleum production is the change in the amount of harmful emissions. The production process leads to releasing greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions (Laxer Lecture 7). Greenhouse gases are discussed by the global community as the causes of the global warming and climate change. That is why, production processes which lead to the increase of gas emissions should be reduced than supported, as it is in the case of the Alberta oil sands. In order to reduce risks for the environment, it is necessary to use expensive methods and tools as preventive measures.
In addition, the production of oil in the Alberta oil sands is associated with the extensive use of fresh water and natural gas, and this factor also influences the environment negatively (Laxer Lecture 7). The other problem is the reduction of lands in the Alberta oil sands because of the consequences of the oil production process. The discussed aspects cannot be referred to as non-influential because the obvious effect of the intensive oil production process is the increase in risks for the environment.
On the one hand, making the Alberta oil sands the centre of the oil production in Canada, the government wins many economic benefits because the development of the oil industry is a advantageous strategy. On the other hand, there are many cons associated with the economic crises and underdevelopment of different industries and markets in the state. The focus on the extensive production of oil leads to dramatic negative effects on the environment because of exhausting the natural resources and the lands associated with the Alberta oil sands. The Harper government’s decision is complex and rather provocative.
To avoid negative consequences and concentrate on the positive results, it is necessary to predict all the possible scenarios associated with the rising petroleum production in the region. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the increased production of oil can lead to improving the economic situation in the country. In addition, it is also impossible to ignore the fact that the focus on one area in the industry can lead to the crisis of the other spheres, as it is associated with the rate of employment, wages, workforce turnover, and oil prices in the country.
Laxer, James. 3125 The Political Economy of Canada: Week 3, Confederation. 2013. Web.
—. 3125 The Political Economy of Canada: Week 3, Lecture 5 (Part 2). 2013. Web.
—. 3125 The Political Economy of Canada: Week 4, Lecture 7. 2013. Web.