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Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism


Last revised:
19 February 2001


Claude Bélanger,
Department of History,
Marianopolis College

Federalism to exist must have two distinct levels of government, each sovereign within its sphere of jurisdiction. One, the federal level, takes care of all those things that are common to the whole of the country while the other level -- provincial, state or canton -- has jurisdiction over those things that are of local concern. Those individuals who insist on the importance of the central government and who, for whatever reason, want to increase its jurisdiction at the expense of the local governments are called centralists.

In the eyes of many political observers the process of industrialization with its social effects and ills necessitated the reshaping of federations along centralist lines. According to the proponents of this theory, only the central government can provide the social services, the economic impetus, the creation and the maintenance of national standards in a federation. This theory has received widespread support in English-speaking Canada since the beginning of the Great Depression.

© 2001 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College