Accommodating multinationals in federal political systems


13-Aug-2017 17:00

These factors combine to limit the political and administrative viability of unilateral federal decision-making in the many areas of shared and overlapping jurisdiction affected by increased continental economic integration.

Conceptualizing the interaction of federalism and North American integration Peter Meekison, Hamish Telford and Harvey Lazar note that political relationships between Canada's senior orders of government are shaped by two intersecting factors: one is largely power-related; the other reflects functional policy relationships.

Indeed, Richard Simeon suggests that, in retrospect, "the impacts (of globalization) on the institutions and practices of intergovernmental relations have been minimal. is how little the forces of globalization have forced change in Canadian federalism." (4) There are several possible explanations for the evolution of Canadian federalism in response to market-driven trends towards greater North American economic integration. Secondly, jurisdictional asymmetries between the federal distribution of powers in Canada and the United States have limited the ability of Canada's federal government to negotiate increased policy and regulatory harmonization with the United States (or other international bodies) without actively engaging the support of provincial governments. By contrast, strong provinces and the relative weakness of regional representation in federal decision-making tend to foster regional brokerage through the processes of executive (or "interstate") federalism in Canada.(7) Both sets of factors spill over into aspects of federal-provincial relations arising from the internationalization of public policies in shared or overlapping jurisdictions.This section summarizes the factors that account for hierarchical, collaborative, and complementary approaches to federal-provincial and interprovincial relations in policy fields subject to increasing internationalization.(2) The federal government may have primary jurisdiction over Canada's relations with foreign countries and international economic policies; however, the diverse effects of North American economic integration on areas of overlapping federal and provincial jurisdiction have contributed to the spread of what may be described as "complementary federalism"--an approach to shared or overlapping government jurisdictions in which federal and provincial governments carry out related but operationally independent functions that recognize areas of common and discrete jurisdiction.

In this article, I examine the political and economic factors that help to explain the relatively modest, incremental adaptation of Canadian federalism to the major structural economic changes that have accompanied North American economic integration since the late 1980s.It also contributes to a growing diversity in the range of policy tools and processes adopted to deal with these challenges--resulting in very different approaches to policy harmonization or coordination in different policy fields.



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