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Federalism and the Strong-State/Weak-State Conundrum: Canadian Economic Policymaking in Comparative Perspective

William M. Chandler and Herman Bakvis
Publius
Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter, 1989), pp. 59-77
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3330565
Page Count: 19
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Federalism and the Strong-State/Weak-State Conundrum: Canadian Economic Policymaking in Comparative Perspective
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Abstract

The areal dispersion of power and constitutional division of responsibilities in federal arrangements are generally felt to limit the ability of federal systems to improve economic performance. Examining Canada within a comparative framework, we assess the "federations as weak states" hypothesis as well as the utility of the "strong-state/weak-state" model itself. Although some aspects of the Canadian federal system-namely the combination of federal with parliamentary traditions and the resulting adverse policy styles-inhibit the adoption of effective economic adjustment policies, these features are not necessarily found in other federal arrangements. Comparisons with Switzerland, Austria, and West Germany suggest that, under certain circumstances, federal power sharing may be conducive to bringing about broad agreement on both goals and policies among national, regional, and local governments and major economic actors.

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