Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Policy Dialogue - PDF


									                         Policy Dialogue                                                       ISSN# 1718-9772
Number 13                        Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy                              Fall 2006


            FRED BURCH                                      JOHN D. WHYTE
            Media Presentation of Crime Statistics          The Supreme Court from the Outside

            DAVID SMITH & IAN PEACH                         OTTO DRIEDGER
            To Elect or Appoint: A Debate on                Restorative Justice: A Movement
            Canadian Senators                               Gaining Momentum

            BRIAN LEE CROWLEY                               PATRICK FAFARD
            The 100 Percent Solution: How to                Public and Private in Canadian
            Handle Non-renewable Natural                    Health Care: A Guide Through
            Resource Revenues under Equalization            the Maze

     SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS ~ Mad Cow Politics: Mad Cow Watch goes Blind in North America      IAN PEACH
     ~ The Destructive Power of Myth: Review of “False Expectations: Politics and the Pursuit of the
     Saskatchewan Myth”        NASIR MAHMOOD ~ Community Participation       MARK PARTRIDGE AND ROSE
     OLFERT ~ Debunking the Myth: The Rural Urban Divide in Saskatchewan
                                               DIRECTOR’S NOTES
                                               Policy Community Concerned by Cutbacks
                                               BY IAN   PEACH

                                             W      ith the arrival of autumn, the policy community is active once again. Our
                                         university partners are abuzz with students and faculty, the House of Commons has
                                         begun its autumn sitting, and the Saskatchewan Legislature will also open soon.
                                         The policy agenda for the fall is broad and varied, and this issue of Policy Dialogue
                                         reflects the wealth of research and analysis going on both at the Saskatchewan
                                         Institute of Public Policy and our friends and colleagues in Saskatchewan and across
                                         the country. I want to thank everyone for their contributions and hope you find
                                         this edition an enjoyable, stimulating read. If you have any comments, we hope to
                                         hear from you at
    SIPP is a non-profit, independent,
    non-partisan institute at the        This autumn, however, the excitement that comes with being a part of an active
    University of Regina committed       policy community is tinged with concern. I am writing the day after the
    to stimulating public policy         Government of Canada announced that, as part of its latest round of cutbacks, it is
    debate and providing expertise,      ending its support of the Canadian Policy Research Networks. The CPRN has been
    research and analysis on social,
                                         a valuable part of the Canadian public policy community since its founding in 1995
    economic, fiscal, environmental
    and administrative issues related
                                         and has been a valued colleague to SIPP for many years. You may remember that its
    to public policy.                    founding President, Judith Maxwell, contributed to the previous edition of Policy
                                         Dialogue and Patrick Fafard, a Research Associate with the Health Network, has
                                         contributed to this edition. Judith also received SIPP’s first Honorary Policy
                                         Fellowship in 2005 for her contribution to public policy analysis and citizen
                                         dialogue in Canada and for her particular contribution to SIPP, as one of the
                                         original members of our Board of Directors. CPRN is looking for ways to continue
                                         to contribute its knowledge and expertise to Canada’s policy community. Let us
                                         hope they succeed, for the state of policy research, analysis and dialogue in Canada
                                         would be much weakened by CPRN’s passing.

                                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
                                         Director’s Notes                            Ian Peach                             2
                                         Social Mobilization                         Nasir Mahmood                         3
                                         Public & Private in Canadian Health Care    Patrick Fafard                        5
                                         The Destructive Power of Myth               Ian Peach                             7
                                         Media Presentation of Crime Statistics      Fred Burch                            8
                                         The 100 Percent Solution                    Brian Lee Crowley                     11
                                         The Supreme Court from the Outside          John D. Whyte                         14
                                         Mad Cow Politics                            Sylvain Charlebois                    16
                                         To Elect or Appoint: A Debate on            David E. Smith & Ian Peach            18
                                         Canadian Senators
                                         Restorative Justice                         Otto Driedger                         20
                                         Debunking the Myth: The Rural-Urban         Rose Olfert & Mark Partridge          22
                                         Divide in Saskatchewan
                                         SIPP Event Calendar                                                               24
2     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
       Enabling Community Participation

       Social mobilization can aim at mustering national and local support for social
       development through an open process that gives ownership to the community
       as a whole. The process is concerned with mobilizing human and financial
       resources through five major approaches: political, government, community,                The Saskatchewan
       corporate, and beneficiary mobilization.                                                     Institute of
                                                                                                   Public Policy
    T    he development experience of the world bears out that a genuine
participatory approach to development is essential for success and sustainability.                  Newsletter
Therefore, governments and development agencies increasingly recognize the
civil society’s participation as essential to promoting responsiveness of national                        STAFF
policies and programs to citizens’ needs, and ensuring transparency and                              Elsa Johnston
accountability in policy making and implementation processes. Genuine                       Communications and Project Officer
participation of citizens must actively engage all citizens, in their various                     Karen Jaster-Laforge
capacities, socio-economic status, affiliations and locations, in decision-making                Junior Research Officer
affecting their lives. Engaging people requires efforts and mechanisms that can                        Ian Peach
empower all, particularly the most disadvantaged members of society.                                    Director
     Social Mobilization is a broad scale movement to engage people’s                                Erna Pearson
participation in achieving a specific development goal through self-reliant efforts.           Administrative Coordinator
It involves all relevant segments of society: decision and policy makers, opinion
leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats, professional groups, religious associations,                  CONTRIBUTORS
commerce and industry, communities and individuals. It is a planned                                     Fred Burch
decentralized process that seeks to facilitate change for development through a                     Sylvain Charlebois
range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts. It takes into                   Brian Lee Crowley
account the needs of the people, embraces the critical principle of community                         Otto Driedger
involvement, and seeks to empower individuals and groups for action. Central to                       Patrick Fafard
social mobilization is the concept of “social capital”, which connotes interaction                   Nasir Mahmood
amongst people through systems that enhance and support that interaction.                              Rose Olfert
Social capital is created from a variety of everyday interactions among people and                   Mark Partridge
is embodied in such structures as civic and religious groups, family membership,                         Ian Peach
informal community networks, and in norms of volunteerism, altruism and                              David E. Smith
                                                                                                     John D. Whyte
       Social mobilization is based on the principles of empowerment, equity,
                                                                                               COVER PHOTO CREDIT
sustainability, integration, cultural sensitivity and gender fairness. Empowerment
                                                                                            Audio Visual Services, University of
involves the process of enabling men, women and children to increase their
                                                                                            Regina, and Don Hall Photography
ability to determine their future as an act of choice. Equity refers to a condition
where equal access to and control of resources and services among classes,
genders, ethnic groups and generations exists, as well as just allocation and            We encourage your input.
distribution of the benefits derived from these resources. Sustainability is a               If you would like to comment on
condition where people are able to continue their core activities and when their         something you read in this newsletter or if
needs are met without compromising the ability of the future generations to               you have something to say to the public
meet their own needs. Integration puts together individual elements to                    policy community, send an email to our
encourage synergy, recognizing that relations among peoples and communities                  Letters Editor at
are dynamic. It seeks to obtain an orientation that recognizes and respects
cultural influences, diversity and gender differences. Mobilization Cont’d on PAGE 4
                                                                                        Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue           3
Mobilization   Cont’d from PAGE 3
     Social mobilization can aim at mustering national and         well as local government agencies, non-governmental
local support for social development through an open process       organizations, women’s groups and cooperatives. The
that gives ownership to the community as a whole. The              communication methods for community mobilization
process is concerned with mobilizing human and financial           include training, participation in planning and coverage of
resources through five major approaches. These include             their activities by the mass media. Beneficiary mobilization is
political, government, community, corporate, and                   focused at informing and motivating the program
beneficiary mobilization.                                          beneficiaries through training programs, the establishment of
     Political mobilization aims at winning political and          community groups, and communication through traditional
policy commitment for a major goal and the necessary               and mass media.
resource allocations to realize that goal. The “targets” are           Like any other social process, social mobilization has its
national policy decision-makers and the communication              own risks and hazards that need to be minimized to
methods include advocacy, lobbying, using goodwill                 maximize its benefits to social development. One hazard is
ambassadors and the mass media. Government mobilization            the leadership vacuum caused by a single person
aims at informing and enlisting the cooperation and help of        monopolizing the leadership of the program, instead of
service providers and other government organizations that          mentoring and training successors. In another example of a
can provide direct and indirect support. The communication         hazard, a team leader wants to take personal credit for his
methods here include training programs, study tours, and           team’s collective work, thus killing the partnership with the
coverage of the subject by the mass media.                         team. A related hazard is the pursuit by the team leader of his
     Corporate mobilization seeks to secure the support of         personal agenda, as against the program agenda, that
national and international companies in promoting                  jeopardizes the program goals and leads to wastage of
appropriate goals, either through the contribution of              resources. While the path to effective social mobilization is
resources or the carrying of appropriate messages as a part of     fraught with serious pitfalls and hazards, the social catalysts
their advertising or product labeling. Community                   need to continue to explore the time tested ways of avoiding
mobilization aims at informing and gaining the commitment          the hazards without compromising the pace and quality of
of local political, religious, social and traditional leaders as   social mobilization.

                               A CPRC Publication
    False Expectations:
    Politics and the Pursuit of the Saskatchewan Myth
    by Dale Eisler
                                                                                Dale Eisler is a former journalist who has
    Myth has played an important and                                            written extensively on Saskatchewan
    ongoing role in the development of                                          politics, public policy and government.
    Saskatchewan’s political economy and                                        Among his work is Rumours of Glory:
    collective identity. It has been expressed                                  Saskatchewan and the Thatcher Years, a
    in many ways. The challenge for the                                         book that chronicled the political life and
    public dialogue of Saskatchewan, as the                                     times of former Liberal Premier Ross
    province enters its second century, is to                                   Thatcher. Mr. Eisler is currently an
    not replay the mistakes of the past.                                        Assistant Secretary to the Federal Cabinet
    Saskatchewan people must recognize the                                      at the Privy Council Office in Ottawa.
    role that myth has played, and must
                                                                                Available Now
    continue to play, in the life of the
                                                                                CPS 48/2006/ISBN 0-88977-194-4/$24.95
    province. But, at the same time, they                                       Canadian Plains Research Center,
    must differentiate it from reality by                                       University of Regina
    understanding the power of myth as a                              
    force for progress and its potential to                                     email
    create false expectations.                                                  phone 1-866-874-2257 or (306) 585-4758

4      Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
       A Guide Through the Maze

       Public anxiety about the health services delivery system remains very high despite, or perhaps because of, the work
       of the Fyke Commission and several other provincial inquiries, a national Royal Commission, and significant
       reforms to the delivery of health services in Canada. Sustained public anxiety has, not surprisingly, led to a broader
       debate about the continuing merits of a “public” system and possible advantages of a more “private” system. To
       encourage public understanding of this issue, the author offers a set of key points as a guide through this maze.

    O    ver the past several years, public concerns and public
anxiety about the health system have increased markedly. This
                                                                      been stable for many years). On the delivery side, there is also
                                                                      a mix of public and private. Many services are provided by
is despite, or perhaps because of, the work of the Fyke               unambiguously public sector workers, nurses being the most
Commission and several other provincial inquiries, the                significant example. Most physicians, on the other hand, are,
Romanow Commission, and significant reforms to the                    in effect, small businesses. Thus, we can and should challenge
delivery of health services in Canada. The decision by former         the critics from the right who compare Canada to Cuba and
Prime Minister Paul Martin to make wait lists the central             North Korea when it comes to health care, just as we should
focus of his government’s health care agenda, and the more            challenge the critics from the left who argue that “private” and
recent focus on a “wait times guarantee”, may also serve to           “health” somehow need to be kept separate (as if they ever
exacerbate public concern. This political preoccupation with          were).
wait times almost certainly heightens public awareness of the
challenge but may also fuel public anxiety about access.              Who Pays and Who Does Are Not the Same Thing
     Sustained public anxiety about health care delivery has
                                                                      The current debates about public and private in Canadian
led to a broader debate about the continuing merits of a
                                                                      health care are confusing because the existing mix of public
“public” system and possible advantages of a more “private”
                                                                      and private is not fully acknowledged. More importantly, the
system. In order to try and respond to public anxiety, pundits
                                                                      critical distinction between delivery and financing is also too
and experts have engaged in a debate about the merits of more
                                                                      often overlooked. While there are links between them (and at
or less public and private in Canadian health care. Alas, too
                                                                      some point more private delivery creates pressure for more
much of the current debate is cast at a very high and general
                                                                      private funding), we need to use a separate frame of reference
level and is not so much a debate as competing and
                                                                      to evaluate claims and counterclaims about how we pay for
contrasting statements that are at best axioms, at worst
                                                                      health care and how such care is delivered. What would these
nothing more than slogans. This feeds the anxiety which led
                                                                      frames look like?
to the debate in the first place. For most Canadians, the
“debate” between proponents of “public” and “private” may
                                                                      Public Or Private:
sometimes feel like navigating a maze. To offer something of
                                                                      It May Not Matter Who Delivers
a set of guideposts through this maze, I suggest that we all
need to keep several key points in mind.                              When it comes to the delivery of health services, we need to
                                                                      be wary of broad claims about the implications of more
                                                                      private delivery. We routinely encounter claims, and in some
Private Health Care is a (Longstanding) Reality:                      cases actual evidence, that private delivery leads to both
Get Used To It!                                                       higher quality and lower quality and will mean both longer
In Canada, like in most OECD countries, there is already              wait times and shorter wait times for surgery and diagnostic
extensive private delivery and private financing of health care.      services. How can this be? The reality is that the available
While upwards of 40% of provincial budgets are allocated to           evidence is more than somewhat contradictory and we do not
health care, fully 30% of the total $140 billion we collectively      have nearly enough hard data and careful analysis to conclude
spend on health care each year are “private” dollars, either          that private delivery of health services is better or worse than
insurance or out-of-pocket payments (and this percentage has          public delivery or under what circumstances one is better than
                                                                                                                Health Care Cont’d on PAGE 6

                                                                                           Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue               5
Health Care   Cont’d from PAGE 5
the other. In fact, the real issue may not be private versus        We know that, thanks to progressive taxation, the wealthy (or
public at all but rather how to organize a range of constantly      at least the middle class) contribute relatively more to the
evolving provider options to deliver optimal care of high           costs of health care. The concern with respect to more private
quality, delivered in a timely way, efficient, effective, and       financing of health care is that this bargain will be weakened,
caring, that is to say responsive to patients and their families.   if not abandoned.
     Private delivery of health care is not intrinsically better;        More importantly, the redistributive nature of Medicare
nor is public delivery, by definition, superior under all           points the way to how we might best sort through the
circumstances. In fact, it is the very attempt to organize the      perplexing debate about the prospect of (more) private
debate around a sharp distinction between public and private        financing of health services. Our challenge is to strike the
delivery that may be the problem. As Lester Salomon and             appropriate balance between what is best for the individual
others have noted, the complex array of delivery agents,            patient and what is best for society in general, to balance
motivated as they are by a complex range of incentives, defy        individual and collective rights.
simple categorization. This is particularly true in health care.         Striking this balance is by no means easy. The decision
     On a more practical level, whether a service is delivered      by the Government of Quebec to regulate the number of
on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis or as a direct              services eligible for private insurance coverage and the
government service may matter little to the patient receiving       number of physicians who can opt out of the public system
the service (although it may matter a great deal to the             is an example of a government attempting to strike just such
individual health care provider, given that a shift to private      a balance. Generally speaking, however, Canadians have
delivery often means a shift from wages to profits). When we        expressed a quite strong preference for pursuing our
need health care services we are usually interested in how fast     collective interest when it comes to health care. The current
we can get them, how easy it is to find them, and how good          challenge is to know what compromises we are willing and
they are, not whether the service is delivered publicly or          indeed are required to make to pursue this collective interest.
privately.                                                          In other words, we may agree that the goal is Chevrolet care
                                                                    for all and that some of us can and will choose to buy a
More Private Financing:                                             Cadillac. However, we need to ensure that this does not
Balancing Collective and Individual Interests                       reduce the supply or the quality of all other cars – easier said
                                                                    than done.
Which brings us finally to the prospect of (more) private
                                                                         What then is the path though the maze? In the face of
financing of health care. From the perspective of individual
                                                                    strong and perplexing claims about the evils of socialized
Canadians, there is a quite reasonable desire to use whatever
                                                                    medicine or profits being made on the backs of the sick, we
means necessary, including our own money, to avoid ill
                                                                    need to ask some hard questions, insist on some basic
health and cure sickness (“Why can’t I pay for my own health
                                                                    distinctions, balance individual and collective interests, and
care or health care for my family?”). From the perspective of                                                                3
                                                                    demand that the focus remain on caring and sharing.
a single individual, being able to write a cheque for health
care might make a great deal of sense – as long as you have
the wealth to pay for it. Moreover, we probably
underestimate the sacrifices individuals are willing to make        1
to pay for health care if and when they have to.                     Patrick Fafard, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the School of Public
     From the perspective of the community, however, it             and International Affairs, University of Ottawa and Research
makes more sense to pool our risk, combine our resources            Fellow, Canadian Policy Research Networks. He has served in
and ensure that health care – something we cannot do                senior positions with the Governments of Canada and
without – is available to all. In fact, some go on to argue         Saskatchewan including Executive Director of the Saskatchewan
that, in return (and within certain limits), we should all be       Commission on Medicare led by Ken Fyke.
willing to make certain sacrifices with respect to the care we
receive (ageing hospitals; modest wait times for elective           Salamon, Lester M., “The New Governance: Getting Beyond the
surgery). To put this argument in more colourful terms, we          Right Answer to the Wrong Question in Public Sector Reform.” J.
are willing to trade away Cadillac care for some in favour of       Douglas Gibson Lecture. School of Policy Studies, Queen’s
Chevrolet care for all.                                             University, 2005.
     Ultimately, Medicare is about redistributing wealth from
those of us who are relatively wealthy and healthy to those of       This is a much abridged and modified version of Patrick Fafard,
us who are neither. We know, for example, that the poor use         Public and Private in Canadian Health Care: a guide for the
the health care system more intensively than the better off.        perplexed. Canadian Policy Research Networks, (forthcoming).
6      Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
       Review of False Expectations: Politics and the Pursuit of the Saskatchewan Myth

                       “Agriculture settlement can make very slender progress in any portion of that
                       region.” – British scientist J. H. Lefroy, 1857
                       “It is not easy to forecast the future of wheat in Saskatchewan because the
                       extent of the country adaptable to wheat growing is so vast that when it
                       comes into production…the output cannot fail to run into figures both of
                       quantity and money that imagination can hardly reach.” – C.P.R. pamphlet

    T    hese two quotes succinctly express the gap between
reality and myth that is the subject of Dale Eisler’s new book
                                                                           Eisler’s conclusion should be required reading for all
                                                                      students of Saskatchewan history. He correctly declares that
False Expectations: Politics and the Pursuit of the Saskatchewan      Saskatchewan is a success story. For him, it is a success
Myth. As Eisler, a well-known former Saskatchewan                     because its people have built a “unique society and economy”
journalist who is now a senior federal public servant,                and created a socially cohesive community (with the
cogently points out, the “Saskatchewan myth” of a land of             regrettable and unacceptable exception of Aboriginal
boundless potential is a conscious product of human                   peoples, a point which Eisler also makes), often against
endeavour, an exercise in political propaganda that, as such,         tremendous odds. I would add that Saskatchewan has largely
is impossible to sustain. Eventually, and inevitably, the             achieved its economic goals, when those goals are assessed
people of the province must confront                                                           realisitically. Our economy is highly
the reality of a land difficult to tame                                                        diversified, with agriculture now
and challenging to wrest a livelihood         For the most part, this book is a careful,       representing only 7% of the
out of. Yet the myth creates false            well-researched exercise in retelling            province’s GDP, and our level of
expectations and a sense of                   Saskatchewan history and constructing a          economic growth has been among the
entitlement; when the expectations            narrative framework around that history          highest in Canada for many years
are not met, the reaction is too often        that gives it meaning and continuing             now. Our cities and towns may not
denial recrimination for those who            relevance.                                       be large, but many are vibrant
are seen to be to blame for the failure,                                                       communities with much of value to
rather than an acceptance that the                                                             offer their residents. Yet, as Eisler
myth is more than a myth and a pride in what has been                 notes, the myth distorts our sense of accomplishment in
accomplished.                                                         what the people of Saskatchewan have built and, as a
     In taking us through this cycle of expectations raised and       consequence, distorts our political discourse.
dashed, Eisler takes us through the history of our province,               In the end, Eisler poses the key question for our province
from the time before it was a province right up to its                – “Has myth played a positive or negative role in the history
centennial year. Eisler, a well-respected professional as both a      of Saskatchewan?” Finding the right balance between myth
journalist and a public servant, does allow his narrative to          as inspiration and reality as perspective is, indeed, the key to
wander onto tangents at times and even, on occasion, to hint          a more rational democratic debate.
at a partisan bias, but these are understandable imperfections        On this note, Eisler gives us his final
in a book-length work from a person whose first career was            piece of wise counsel in the last
to comment on Saskatchewan politics in the strictly                   sentence of the book: “Once we come
constrained format of a newspaper column. For the most                to terms with what we can reasonably
part, this book is a careful, well-researched exercise in             hope for ourselves and what we
retelling Saskatchewan history and constructing a narrative           already have, we might discover what
framework around that history that gives it meaning and               my uncle Frank understood long ago
continuing relevance.                                                 – that the myth has become our
                                                                                        Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue            7
       Interpreting the Rhetoric

       Crime rates per 100,000 can be misleading and can foster negativity that has the potential to sway public
       opinion and attitudes and, subsequently, may affect expenditures and economic growth. Most Saskatchewan
       residents could confirm that, in casual conversation residents of other provinces have, for years, taken solace in
       reciting the frequent media references to high crime rates in Saskatchewan, and the west. Investors, medical
       specialists, and other professionals are just as susceptible to such rhetoric.

    S    tatistics Canada has published police reported crime
statistics since 1962. Changes in legislation, policies and
                                                                       – almost 400 more than the next highest, Manitoba.”
                                                                       Concerning violence in general, however, a look at the actual
practices as well as social, economic and demographic factors          numbers provides a different perspective. Saskatchewan
are noted in each publication to assist in interpreting the data       police reported 19,717 incidents, Ontario 93,788 and
and to enhance the quality and comparability of the data set.          Quebec 56,175. Graph One depicts these figures and the
In 1988, Statistics Canada began using Census Metropolitan             actual number of police reported violent crimes for all
Area (CMA) populations in addition to provincial and                   provinces as listed in Table 3 of the 2005 report.
territorial data to construct rates per 100,000 for selected
                                                                                        Graph One : Violent Crime (Numbers)
criminal incident categories. Although criminologists                                           by Province - 2005
caution that general use of rates per 100,000 can be
misleading, as not all segments of the population are at equal            90000
risk, this type of information can provide the public with an             80000
interesting and relatively safe comparative base if qualified             70000

appropriately, used consistently and presented                            60000
dispassionately. Presented without appropriate qualifiers or
sensationalized beyond reasonable licence, however, “rates”               30000
can influence fear of crime, potentially affecting public                 20000
policy decisions and expenditures.                                        10000

       On July 20, 2006 Statistics Canada released “Crime                     0

                                                                                  NL   PEI   N.S   N.B Que Ont Man Sask Alta               B.C
Statistics in Canada, 2005”. All facets of the Canadian news
media reported on the publication within 24 hours. Most                               Source: Statistics Canada, “Crime Statistics in
presented a standard set of comments extracted from the                           Canada, 2005”, Cat. 85-002-XIE, Vol. 26, No.4, Table 3

highlights page. The articles were framed with narratives that
provide a local or regional flavour and most included insights              CBC Radio Saskatchewan used phrases such as “among
from criminologists or public officials. A number of media             the worst for murders…” and “…among the most crime-
outlets, however, published fairly sensational bi-lines and            ridden in the country…” to describe Saskatchewan and also
phrases. Few readers will recall the insights or the actual data       quoted the 1,983 violent crimes per 100,000 figure, noting
but the emotions inspired by the rhetoric, will likely remain.         this was “a rate nearly three times higher than the most
     What, then, was the “rhetoric” that dominated local               peaceful provinces, Ontario and Quebec”. The subjective
news reports of the Statistics Canada 2005 release? The page           presentation by CBC Radio may have led the audience to
one headline in the July 21, 2006 Regina Leader Post was,              believe rates per one hundred thousand are actual numbers…
“City’s crime rate falls”. The article notes that, “although           “Saskatchewan had more violent crime than any province in
(the) crime rate dropped, it (Regina) remained the second              Canada”.
most crime-ridden city in Canada …” and continued with,                     The Regina Leader Post article noted, “Saskatchewan also
“Total crime was down 14.6 per cent, homicides 20 per cent”            reported more homicides than any other province, 4.3 per
followed by, “Saskatchewan reported more violent crime                 100,000 people – up from 3.9 the previous year”. The rates
than any other province at 1,983 per one hundred thousand              are quoted accurately but the narrative is misleading. All but

8     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
the Atlantic Provinces and territories reported more                                          coverage – may linger.
homicides than Saskatchewan and four of Canada’s larger                                           “Toronto’s murder rate”, notes CBC, “at 2.0 per 100,000
cities each recorded more homicides than the entire province.                                 people, is half that of Regina and far below that of
                                                                                              Saskatoon”. The actual numbers, 104 homicides in Toronto
                         Graph Two : Homicide Rates (per 100,000)                             (CMA), 8 in Regina (CMA) and 9 in Saskatoon (CMA) are
                                              by Province
                          "Hig h e st h o m ic id e ra te s in th e w e st, 2005"             not mentioned. Graph Four depicts the actual reported
   5                                                                                          homicides in selected CMA’s over a three-year period.
                                                               4.2     4.3                        Graphs Three and Four make no pretence at respecting
   4                                                                                          population size or density, socio-economic or demographic
                                     Canada (2.0)                               3.3
                                                                                              factors. They are interesting, but of limited direct value to
                                                                                        2.3   policy makers. Each could, however, in conjunction with
   2       1.7                                        1.7                                     subjective media presentation that complements the visual
                                     1.2                                                      image, directly influence public attitudes, fear of crime, and
                                                                                              subsequently, public policy decision making.
           NL      PEI      N.S     N.B Que Ont Man Sask Alta B.C                                                              Graph Four :
                                                                                                                 Homicide (NUMBERS) in Selected CMA's - 2005
           Source: Reproduced from Statistics Canada, “Crime Statistics in                       110
             Canada, 2005”, Cat. 85-002-XIE, Vol. 26, No.4, Figure 5                             100
     Graph Two shows the standard presentation of homicides                                       70
in Canada that has appeared in various forms in Statistics                                        60
Canada publications since 1987. The title “Highest homicide                                       40

rates in the west” was added in 2004. The visual image, and                                       30
title, appears to speak for itself and, at face value, lends                                      10
support to an overly negative portrayal of life on the prairies.                                   0

But is this truly what Statistics Canada expects their audience,






















or the media, to conclude from the data?



                                                                                                 Source: Statistics Canada, “Crime Statistics in Canada”, Table 4 in reports
                              Graph Three : Homicide (Numbers)                                              2003-2005, Cat. 85-002-XIE, Vol. 24-6, 25-5, 26-4
                                     by Province - 2005
                                                       21 8                                       Other “non-traditional” approaches also leave a
  200                                                                                         considerably different impression. Three are outlined below.
                                                                                                  The Toronto CMA covers approximately 5,900 square
  150                                                                                         kilometres and the Regina CMA 3,400 square kilometres. If
                                                100                                      98   the Regina CMA was expanded to include the Moose Jaw
                                                                                              CMA and points between (but maintained its eastern
   50                                                                   43                    boundary) the geographic size would be approximately the
                                       9                                                      same as Toronto’s CMA. Although a single homicide is tragic,
       0                                                                                      “Regina” residents would find it difficult to comprehend over
           NL       PEI      N.S      N.B       Que   Ont      Man     Sask     A lta   B.C
                                                                                              100 homicides in an area between Moose Jaw and Edenwold.
                     Source: Statistics Canada, “Crime Statistics in                          For the citizens of the Toronto CMA, it is a reality.
                 Canada, 2005”, Cat. 85-002-XIE, Vol. 26, No.4, Table 3                           Further, a homicide every month and a half (Regina
                                                                                              CMA) is cause for concern, but one every three and a half
    Graph Three presents the actual number of homicides in                                    days (Toronto CMA) is more unsettling. Presenting the data
2005 by province . Presenting the data in this fashion does not                               in a “homicides per month” or “by square kilometres” is
provide an image that is more, or less, valuable than Graph                                   unscientific, but not any more so than the Toronto Star’s
Two. Both graphs, however, evoke a distinctly different                                       comment that “someone in Toronto was less than half as likely
emotional response depending on ones’ home community.                                         to be murdered as someone in Edmonton” (based on 2
Although the “rates” or “numbers” quickly will be forgotten,                                  homicides per 100,000 compared to 4.3 per 100,000). The
the mental image – particularly when reinforced by media                                      overall homicide rate for Saskatchewan was also 4.3 per
                                                                                                                                                                            Media Cont’d on PAGE 10

                                                                                                                             Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue                                       9
Media   Cont’d from PAGE 9
100,000. A similar comparison could be made between                  confirm that, in casual conversation residents of other
Saskatchewan’s rate and Ontario’s (1.7 per 100,000). But are         provinces have, for years, taken solace in reciting the frequent
these differences statistically significant, and are they any        media references to high crime rates in Saskatchewan, and
more informative than using simple percentages?                      the west. Investors, medical specialists, and other
     Using percentages, the statement that Saskatchewan’s            professionals are just as susceptible to such rhetoric.
violent crime rate was “nearly three times higher than the                For the most part, Canadian journalists, working under
most peaceful provinces Ontario and Quebec,” becomes                 considerable pressure, captured the essence of the 2005
more incredulous. There were 304,274 violent crimes                  twenty-six page “Crime Statistics in Canada 2005” report –
reported in Canada in 2005; 19,717 in Saskatchewan or 6%             and did so within incredibly short timeframes. Subtle
of all violent crimes in Canada, and                                                            changes made by Statistics Canada
93,788 in Ontario, or 31% of all              If the Regina CMA was expanded to                 that first appeared in 2004, however,
violent crimes. The percent of                include the Moose Jaw CMA and points              may tend to excuse reporters. For
Canadian homicides occurring in each          between (but maintained its eastern               example, although the publications
province is also similar; 6.5% occurred       boundary) the geographic size would be            have reported high rates in the west
in Saskatchewan, 33% in Ontario.              approximately the same as Toronto’s CMA.          for various crime types for decades,
     Returning to the Regina and              Although a single homicide is tragic,             2004 was the first year where the
Toronto CMA’s, a question to consider         “Regina” residents would find it difficult to     descriptive     heading     “Highest
is, what decrease / increase would            comprehend over 100 homicides in an area          homicide rates in the west” appears
result in the Toronto CMA reporting a         between Moose Jaw and Edenwold.                   above the graph depicting homicide
higher rate than the Regina CMA?                                                                rates per 100,000. The combined
Using the 2005 reported homicides                                                               image and textual message provides
and population figures, a 25% reduction in reported                  for an almost irresistible headline. If media representatives
homicides in the Regina CMA (8 to 6) would produce a rate            could see beyond these ready made “key messages” and
per 100,000 of 2.97. The Toronto CMA would require an                occasionally present the actual numbers along with the rates,
increase of 50% in the number of reported homicides (104             compare similar sized regions, and avoid subjective
to 159) to generate a rate per 100,000 of 2.99. Regions with         commentary the coverage would be more meaningful.
smaller denominators, are almost certain to have higher rates        Attempting to devote public funds to serious problem areas
when compared to significantly larger populations.                   will be a more difficult task if Saskatchewan taxpayers are led
     Total population, as the “denominator” when calculating         to believe their communities are “crime ridden” and that a
crime rates, has been questioned by social scientists for other      “get tough on crime” approach is all that is needed.
reasons; it may represent a false image of risk: “The
traditional homicide rate is not what people think it is,            REFERENCES
namely an accurate measure of the occurrence of violence                  1
within a population.” If the result is intended to provide an               See for example, Roberts, J. V. (2001) Research Summary
indication of risk, the denominator should attempt to reflect        Vol. 6 No.6 November, “Public Fear of Crime and Perceptions of
those at risk – for example young disadvantaged males. One           the Criminal Justice System: A Review of Recent Trends”, Ottawa:
problem associated with using general-population census              Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.
figures as the comparison baseline, is that crime is not                  2
                                                                             A detailed critique of problems with using the total
randomly distributed throughout the general population -
                                                               3     population in the denominator appears in, Andresen M., Jenion
“different groups commit different crimes at different rates.”
                                                                     G., Jenion M, (2003) “Conventional Calculations of Homicide
     A similar problem exists with the numerator. In other
                                                                     Rates Leads to an Inaccurate Reflection of Canadian Trends”
publications, Statistics Canada reports, “… because of the
                                                                     Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice January;
small number of homicides in these communities and their
                                                                     Vol. 45, Iss.1.
relatively small populations, a small increase in the number
of homicides in these areas will have a large impact on the                 Gold, A. D., (2003) “Media Hype, Racial Profiling, and
rates”.                                                              Good Science.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal
     Rates per 100,000 can be misleading and can foster              Justice July 2003 Vol. 45, Iss.3.
negativity that has the potential to sway public opinion and
attitudes and, subsequently, may affect expenditures and                    Statistics Canada, “Homicide in Canada 2003” Juristat, Cat.
economic growth. Most Saskatchewan residents could                   no. 85-002-XPE, Vol. 24, no. 8, p. 4.

10     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
       How to Handle Non-renewable Natural Resource Revenues under Equalization

       The federal government’s Expert Panel on Equalization (Canada 2006) has done the country a huge service by
       reiterating the need to move equalization away from special political deals and back to a rational, formula-driven
       approach. Just as important, and this has not yet received the attention it deserves, the Expert Panel has underlined
       that natural resource revenues are different from other kinds of revenues and should be treated differently, at least
       for purposes of defining the standard to which equalization-receiving provinces should be equalized.

    T    he federal government’s Expert Panel on Equalization
(Canada 2006) has done the country a huge service by
                                                                                bread. They are properly considered income
                                                                                for the purposes of providing public
reiterating the need to move equalization away from special                     services.
political deals and back to a rational, formula-driven
                                                                                Non-renewable resource royalties are quite
approach. Just as important — and this has not yet received
                                                                                different. When these resources are sold and
the attention it deserves — the Expert Panel has underlined
                                                                                a royalty is levied on that sale, all that has
that natural resource revenues are different from other kinds
                                                                                changed is that the province has a cash asset
of revenues and should be treated differently, at least for
                                                                                instead of an asset in the ground. The
purposes of defining the standard to which equalization-
                                                                                trouble is, equalization does not make the
receiving provinces should be equalized.
                                                                                distinction between income and the
     While the Expert Panel was right to single out natural
                                                                                proceeds from the sale of a capital asset. It
resource revenues, it has not found the best way to integrate
                                                                                treats royalty revenues the same as it treats
them into the overall formula. Non-renewable natural
                                                                                personal, corporate and sales taxes.
resource revenues are not like income or sales taxes. Such
                                                                                (Boessenkool 2002, 5)
taxes, and most other revenues, are renewable. They flow
from the endlessly renewed efforts and activities of people.           Thus, in counting non-renewable natural resource revenues
Renewable natural resources, such as forest products or                as part of the “fiscal capacity” of equalization-receiving
hydro-electric power, if husbanded properly, can provide a             provinces, the equalization formula treats that money as
reasonably sustainable long-term flow of income.                       income, rather than assets — as new value created, rather
     But non-renewable natural resource revenues come from             than a simple transformation from one form of asset into
the sale of finite resources. As one AIMS author puts it in this       another. By treating resource revenues this way and
accounting example, non-renewable natural resource                     deducting them from equalization payments, Ottawa in
revenues should be treated not as “income” to the provinces,           effect forces recipient provinces to act irresponsibly with their
but as the sale of an asset:                                           assets and to spend them as ordinary income.
                                                                            Additionally, non-renewable natural resource revenues
        The revenue from bread that Bill the Baker
                                                                       have another peculiar quality. As former Alberta finance
        sells is income — it affects the profits and
                                                                       minister Jim Dinning likes to say, non-renewable natural
        losses of the bakery. However, if Bill sells
                                                                       resource revenues are non-reliable, subject to wild
        one of his ovens, the money from that sale
                                                                       fluctuations in commodity prices. But government spending
        does not enter the income statement. This
                                                                       has a rather different character: it is highly reliable.
        sale is a balance sheet transaction, because
                                                                       Governments hire employees, all of whom expect to be paid
        all Bill has done is to exchange a physical
                                                                       regularly, have benefits and pensions and need a place to
        asset (the oven) for a financial asset (the
                                                                       work – all long-term spending commitments. Since these
        cash from the sale).
                                                                       employees are highly unionized and their contracts are quite
        Taxes on personal and corporate income as                      inflexible, they are likely to be quite stony faced if
        well as sales are like revenue from the sale of                governments plead low natural resources prices at bargaining
                                                                                                       100 Percent Solution Cont’d on PAGE 12

                                                                                          Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue                11
100 Percent Solution     Cont’d from PAGE 11

time. But if prices — and, therefore, government revenues —              the equalization program effectively to force all recipient
are high, they certainly expect a cut.                                   provinces to act in this way.
     That is why it is a mistake to treat non-renewable natural
resource revenues as if they were just like income or sales              The 100 Percent Solution
taxes. Spending commitments made when prices are high                         The solution to this problem appears relatively
become a nightmare for governments when prices fall. The                 straightforward. In calculating both the ten-province
asperity of the equalization conflict between Ottawa and                 standard up to which equalization-receiving provinces are to
provinces that are rich in non-renewable resources is due in             be brought and their equalization entitlements, Ottawa
large part to the high prices these resources fetch in the               should look at what the provinces actually do with their non-
marketplace today. The resource-rich provinces wish to                   renewable natural resource money. If a province spends such
spend these revenues, but unless they act carefully and                  revenues to finance ordinary program spending, that money
deliberately, they will simply sow the seeds of miserable and            should count toward its fiscal capacity and should feed
draconian budget cuts when the inevitable price collapse                 through to the calculation of the ten-province standard.
comes.                                                                        If, on the other hand, a province acts responsibly and
     If it is correct that non-renewable natural resource                treats its non-renewable resource revenues as the asset they
revenues must be treated as capital, it follows that they                are, this should be reflected in the way those revenues are
should be reinvested, so as to confer long-term benefits on                                         treated under equalization. For
each province’s citizens – the                                                                      example, if the money goes to
ultimate owners of the resource.            [I]t is a mistake to treat non-renewable natural        reduce provincial debt, it should
That means such revenues should             resource revenues as if they were just like income      not be counted in the province’s
be used exclusively for two things.         or sales taxes. Spending commitments made               fiscal capacity. If it goes into a
     One is debt reduction. Since           when prices are high become a nightmare for             heritage-type fund, as Alberta has
debt is only deferred taxes, a huge         governments when prices fall. The asperity of the       done with some of its revenues,
debt is a big disincentive to               equalization conflict between Ottawa and                only the revenues generated by that
business investment in their                provinces that are rich in non-renewable                fund, not the capital endowment of
provinces. Servicing a billion              resources is due in large part to the high prices       the fund itself, should be counted
dollars’ worth of debt costs the            these resources fetch in the marketplace today.         in the province’s fiscal capacity.
average province roughly $80                                                                            As an example, when all non-
million a year, year after year.                                                                    renewable resource revenues and a
Reduce debt by a billion dollars, and over 20 years a province           three-year average from fiscal years 2003/04 to 2005/06 are
could spend a further $1.6 billion on public services without            used to determine the provinces’ fiscal capacity, the gap
the need for deficits or higher taxes, or having to depend on            between the seven equalization receiving provinces and
taxpayers in the rest of the country to finance the large                Alberta, the province with the highest fiscal capacity, is over
transfers they receive to pay for needed public services.                $4,000 per capita. This is primarily due to the inclusion of
     The second option for using these revenues responsibly              all revenues from the province’s non-renewable natural
is the creation of a heritage or trust fund. This creates an asset       resources.
that smoothes out the huge fluctuations in natural resource                   Suppose instead we assume that all provinces treated
revenues, while creating an asset that can be invested in                their resources royalties responsibly — in other words, as
things that confer long-term benefits, like genuine                      assets — and the equalization formula recognizes this fiscal
infrastructure, medical research, and top flight facilities for          responsibility. As Figure 1 shows, the disparity between the
our schools, colleges and universities.                                  highest and lowest fiscal capacities of the provinces after
     The problem, of course, in dealing with non-renewable               equalization is reduced to just over $1,200 per capita.
natural resource revenues and equalization is that many                  Alberta’s huge but temporary non-renewable natural resource
provinces do act irresponsibly and spend such revenues as if             revenue windfall does not artificially inflate its fiscal capacity.
they were ordinary provincial income. While the revenues                 Only income from the province’s Heritage Fund, not the
last, they effectively boost the province’s spending capacity,           underlying assets, are counted toward its fiscal capacity. This
but at the cost of creating an inequity whereby some                     is exactly as it should be, since the province would be doing
provinces can afford to offer richer services than others                the responsible thing on behalf of present and future
simply by running down their capital assets to finance                   generations of Albertans by investing the windfall as a
current consumption. Such abuse, however, is no reason for               financial asset rather than spending it as ordinary revenue.

12     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
               Figure 1: Ten Province Standard Fiscal Capacity and Equalization Payments, by Province,
              Excluding Non-renewable Natural Resource Revenues, Fiscal Year 2006/07 ($ per Capita)









                                        NL   PE    NS       NB          QC            ON            MB    SK   AB   BC

                                                             Own Source Fiscal Capacity    Equalization

                 Note: Fiscal capacity and equalization payments are based on a three-year average of fiscal years
                 2003/04 to 2005/06. Sources: Courchene 2005; Canada 2006; provincial budget documents for fiscal
                 year 2005/06; and author’s calculations.

Conclusion                                                                            Expert Panel muddied the waters by treating renewable and
Our proposed approach to non-renewable natural resource                               non-renewable resources in the same way, even though they
revenues would allow the federal government to honour its                             differ in principle. Moreover, the Panel failed to understand
promise not to count such revenues in calculating provinces’                          the transformative power for equalization-receiving provinces
equalization entitlements (subject only to the condition that                         of a principled treatment of non-renewable natural resource
these revenues be treated as capital, not income), removing a                         revenues. Ottawa can and should do better on equalization
major source of conflict between the provinces over natural                           reform.
resource revenues and how to integrate them into
equalization. It would also introduce a dynamic element into
the equalization program, actually rewarding provinces for
sound management of their assets.                                                     REFERENCES

                                                                                      Boessenkool, Ken. 2002. Ten Reasons to Remove Non-renewable
       Ottawa can and should build on the Expert
                                                                                      Resources from Equalization. Halifax, NS: Atlantic Institute for
       Panel’s recommendation to return to a formula-
                                                                                      Market Studies.
       driven approach to equalization, as well as on its
       recognition that non-renewable natural resource
                                                                                      Canada. 2006. Expert Panel on Equalization and Territorial
       revenues have a special character. But the Expert
                                                                                      Formula Financing. Achieving a National Purpose: Putting
       Panel muddied the waters by treating renewable
       and non-renewable resources in the same way,                                   Equalization Back on Track. Ottawa: Department of Finance. May.
       even though they differ in principle.
                                                                                      Courchene, Thomas J. 2005. “Resource Revenues and
                                                                                      Equalization: Five-Province vs. National-Average Standards,
Ottawa can and should build on the Expert Panel’s                                     Alternatives to the Representative Tax System, and Revenue-
recommendation to return to a formula-driven approach to                              Sharing Pools.” Paper prepared for the Expert Panel on
equalization, as well as on its recognition that non-renewable                        Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing. Ottawa.
natural resource revenues have a special character. But the                           September.

                                                                                                               Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue    13
       From the Outside

       In 2005–2006 there were two events that placed in public discourse the question of the Court’s rightful place
       in the broader political order. The first was the new, somewhat innovative, way of appointing new members
       to the Court and the second was the brief stir caused by a member of parliament who attacked the presumption
       of Supreme Court judges when they decide on the validity of laws and public administration on the basis of
       unwritten constitutional principles.

     W     hat is important about a nation’s top court is the
way that it shapes the nation’s law – not only by the
                                                                      reflect not the distant and abstract values of efficient and fair
                                                                      markets and effective regulation, but palpable and personal
substantive results of its decisions, but the tenor of its            values – questions of how to reconcile personal autonomy
reasoning. How a supreme national court practices law –               with the needs of social cohesion and social conformity. In
how it thinks about law – as evidenced by its members’                this way, Canadian courts speak to the legitimacy of many
modes and theories of legal justification is politically              aspects of public regulation of personal liberty and personal
significant. It shapes an understanding of what the rule of           choices, and they set limits on the normative social vision of
law means in our political society and, as well, determines the       the state. It is this effect of Charter of Rights decisions that
level of legitimacy that is granted to the court – and to the         has made the work of the Supreme Court of Canada so
laws, especially the Constitution, that the court applies.            political – so subject to popular reaction.
     In 2005 – 2006 there were two events, apart from the                   We so highly value judicial independence – the
actual decisions delivered by the                                                                   independence to decide cases
Supreme Court, that placed in           Under the Charter, court decisions reflect not the          according only to judges’ sense of
public discourse the question of        distant and abstract values of efficient and fair           the law – that we have given
the Court’s rightful place in the       markets and effective regulation, but palpable and          judges       secure,    long-term
broader political order. The first      personal values – questions of how to reconcile             appointments. In Canada, we
was the new, somewhat                   personal autonomy with the needs of social cohesion         also sense that electing judges is
innovative, way of appointing           and social conformity. In this way, Canadian courts         inconsistent with the core idea of
new members to the Court and            speak to the legitimacy of many aspects of regulating       legalism in that currying electoral
the second was the brief stir           personal liberty and personal choices and they set          favour distorts law’s meaning.
caused by a member of                   limits on the normative social vision of the state.         How, then, should we give
parliament who attacked the                                                                         institutional recognition to the
presumptuousness of Supreme                                                                         political significance of judging?
Court judges when they decide cases concerning the validity           In recent decades in Canada we have sought to reflect the
of laws on the basis of unwritten constitutional principles.          public values of judicial decision-making through
     It is usual to place responsibility for a heightened             constructing quasi-public judicial nomination processes that
political awareness of the Supreme Court’s role on the                will identify people whose training, achievements and
coming into force of the Canadian Charter of Rights and               experience make them particularly suitable for judicial
Freedoms as part of the constitutional amendments of 1982.            appointment. As valuable has this has been, it is a pale
But, for over a century before 1982 courts had been regularly         version of political accountability compared to the
interrupting, on the ground of constitutional breach, crucial         disputatious American process of Senate confirmation of
regulatory projects of governments, as well as governmental           persons nominated for federal judicial appointment. But in
initiatives to implement specialized administrative structures.       recent years in Canada, the American process of legislative
Nevertheless, the new Charter agenda of liberty, group rights,        confirmation has had its allure. For some, the harsh tones
due process and equal treatment has caused courts to bring            and open politics of the American confirmation process have
constitutional judgment to bear on the moral questions of             seemed a sensible match to the political conflict that has
personal entitlement, state responsibilities and the conditions       attended some Charter decisions in Canada.
of democratic justice. Under the Charter, court decisions                   When it came time last Fall to appoint a replacement for
14     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
Justice John Major on the Supreme Court, the Liberal parliamentarians by constitutional lawyer Peter Hogg. He set
government, following the Canadian strategy of tampering tight restrictions on any questioning that might have
with the way judges are nominated, created a committee of illuminated constitutional philosophy. Instead, he instructed
nine persons to consider names suggested by the government parliamentarians to explore Justice Rothstein’s wisdom,
and to select three persons one of whom the government compassion, collegiality, energy, courtesy, literacy and
more-or-less committed itself to appoint. The committee was rationality, all of which, while perfectly attractive attributes in
given just six names to review but it seems that the committee a judge, or in anyone, were not only beyond discernment in
was licensed to seek other names and, if it thought it the context of this sort of hearing, but were far less
necessary, add a new name to the group it recommended. In meaningful to the nation than the question of what values
fact, it did consider additional persons but, in the end, the Justice Rothstein saw the constitution bringing to Canadian
committee suggested three names from the short list of six political society.
given it. On balance, one would                                                                                      Professor Hogg was, of course,
have to say that this was a process of                                                                         correct in telling parliamentarians
limited significance; the appoint-                                                                             that they were not to ask Justice
ment was hugely shaped by the                                                                                  Rothstein how he would decide a
government’s exercises of discretion                                                                           particular case that might soon
in establishing the small group of                                                                             come before the Supreme Court.
names that the Committee could                                                                                 That question might lead to the
consider and, consequently, there                                                                              inference that the nominee was
was not a broad review of potential                                                                            making decision commitments in
candidates once the list left the                                                                              exchange for approval which
control of federal ministers.                                                                                  would be a stark abridgement of
Furthermore, although we have no                                                                               the rule of law. It would also lead
direct evidence of what drove the                                                                              litigants to believe that the judge
Committee’s recommendations, the                                                                              had a closed mind on issues that
selection reflects notions of                                                                                 will come before him, whereas
geographic even-handedness as                                                                                 judicial decision-making is based
much as anything else. This stage of                                                                          both on deep neutrality and on
the appointment process does not                                                                              open-minded application of legal
seem a significant advance over the                                                                           precepts to real and current
careful work that has usually been                                                                            contexts. However, the sound
done by the federal Commissioner                                                                              advice not to deal with actual legal
of Federal Judicial Affairs and the                                                                           controversies should not have
Prime Minister’s Office, although                                                                             foreclosed explorations of judicial
there was increased transparency                                                                              philosophy and constitutional
with respect to the fact that a                                                                               values. For instance, in his most
judicial selection process was taking Photos courtesy of Philippe Landreville. Copyright of the Supreme Court famous decision as a member of
place.                                   of Canada.                                                           the Federal Court of Appeal – a
     The Harper government, when                                                                              decision on the patentability of an
it came to power, accepted the three names submitted by the oncomouse, a genetically altered mouse – he wrote that the
Committee and named for appointment Justice Marshall policy questions surrounding the scope of patent protection
Rothstein, a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal. It was were not for the court to address. Depending on what he
decided to subject this proposal to parliamentary review – for actually meant by this claim, it could be a sound stance for a
Canada, a novel (but, in the end, an ersatz) confirmation judge to take, but it seems to reflect a very limited view of
process. Sadly, this process cannot be said to have contributed statutory interpretation. These ideas of legitimate judicial
to an understanding of the judicial function or the values that reasoning, if explored, would inform legislators – and
guide it. The process was devoid of enquiry into what, for Canadians – about what sort of judicial reasoning we might
Justice Rothstein, comprises the constitutional philosophy or get from Justice Rothstein. Professor Hogg in his cautionary
the moral authority that will lie behind his judicial words seems to have driven the parliamentary review of the
development of constitutional meaning. The empty process nominee away from these important issues.
may have been the result of the introductory lecture to                                                             The Supreme Court Cont’d on PAGE 17

                                                                                                    Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue                15
        Mad Cow Watch goes Blind in North America

        With the discovery of the seventh BSE case in Canada, study of the disease and monitoring clearly represents
        a far more reasonable course than the “business as usual” tack prevailing in the industry and in the Canadian
        policy approach since the initial Canadian BSE crisis. Canadian consumers deserve better protection.

     C   anada’s largest market for beef, the United States, has
lately postponed plans to allow more imports of Canadian
                                                                                     an old bag of feed produced before the bans or accidents that
                                                                                     occurred in feed mills may have caused the disease to spread.
cattle over the age of 30 months, in light of this country’s                         The possibility of maternal transmission of BSE, from cow to
latest seventh case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy                              calf, was also mentioned after the latest case was found. As we
(BSE) found in a very young animal in July 2006. It would                            move along with our learning process on BSE and
seem, however, that worries from the Canadian beef industry                          international trades concerning food safety, a guessing game
will be short lived, since Japan recently lifted its six-month                       is hardly an astute strategy for reassuring our trading
ban on U.S. beef, clearing the way for meatpackers to gain                           partners. Indeed, surveillance of the disease itself has become
lost market share in the land of the rising sun. In order to                         an even more important issue.
achieve that, they need, of course, Canadian cattle. Surely,                               Canada will be testing over 50,000 cases this year, a
there is renewed optimism in the cattle industry these days,                         great improvement from 3,000 a few years go, but it is still
and any future BSE case                                                                                                       far from enough. Increased
seems to have little or no                                                                                                    monitoring across the
affect at all on industry                                                                                                     supply chain would not
officials. Finding more                                                                                                       only serve the purpose of
BSE cases in Canada                                                                                                           managing risks, it would
should be expected, but                                                                                                       help us understand how
more work to manage                                                                                                           the disease is contracted
future cases is certainly                                                                                                     and how it evolves over
required.                                                                                                                     time. Although the CFIA
     This summer, the U.S.                                                                                                    recently strengthened feed
announced that it will cut                                                                                                    control in Canada, the feed
its    mad-cow        testing                                                                                                 industry needs to be better
program by almost 90 per                                                                                                      scrutinized. Monitoring
cent, after data collected                                                                                                    will lead to more evidence-
over two years showed a                                                                                                       based analysis, which is
very low level of the             Illustration courtesy of Matt Zerr, graphics editor for The Carillon, University of Regina.
                                                                                                                              essential for scientific
disease in the domestic                                                                                                       research. It would also
herd. This would suggest that North American authorities                             allow the supply chain to equip itself for future threatening
are perhaps becoming nonchalant about the BSE scare                                  diseases that could someday strike the cattle industry.
without knowing much about the disease itself. The last                                    Methods to detect the disease should also be reviewed.
Canadian BSE case in July was born five years after the feed                         For example, a Canadian company based in Alberta is
ban that prevented parts from cattle and other ruminants                             confident it has a cheap, ground-breaking test for mad cow
from being used in feed for ruminants. For years, the                                disease. The only approved BSE test in Canada has to be
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) argued that the                               performed post-mortem on the animal. It is now
1997 feed ban would eradicate most latent BSE cases from                             technologically possible to test live animals and detect the
Canadian herds. With this last case, some have suggested that                        disease at an early stage so as to perhaps halt it. Similar

16     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
technologies exist in the United States and Europe. These process for both the industry and Canadian consumers. The
would decrease the costs of monitoring capabilities while focus now should also be on learning, not just on managing
increasing our monitoring capacity and accuracy, and, at the risks. Canadian consumers deserve better protection. In
same time, vastly increase our                                                                  enhancing        our      BSE
knowledge of the disease itself.       Over the last three years, we have realized that the     monitoring strategy, scientists
     Over the last three years, we     Americans are the “canaries,” signalling to us when it   will acquire better knowledge
have realized that the Americans are   is time to take action. Since the Americans are          of the disease itself, and our
the “canaries,” signalling to us       reluctant to test all of their cattle for BSE, Canada is trading partners will have
when it is time to take action. Since  synchronistically also not ready to do so, and the CFIA  better reassurance of the
the Americans are reluctant to test    adamantly defends current food safety policies.          quality of our products. With
all of their cattle for BSE, Canada is                                                          the discovery of the seventh
synchronistically also not ready to do so, and the CFIA BSE case in Canada, study of the disease and improved
adamantly defends current food safety policies. It has no other monitoring clearly represents a far more reasonable course
choice but to do so. The CFIA applies rigorous methods to than the “business as usual” tack prevailing in the industry
manage domestic risks, both for the industry and consumers. and in the Canadian policy approach since the initial
Better monitoring, though, would democratize the entire Canadian BSE crisis.

                        The Supreme Court       Cont’d from PAGE 15
     It is hard to see that the innovations developed for the         The first is that there is nothing legally adventurous in
Supreme Court’s most recent appointment provide a useful              understanding the constitutional text to have been shaped by
template for future appointments. However, it is likely to be         basic principles of political ordering and to seek to understand
many years until another appointment and, in that time, the           the meaning of that text through recourse to the constitution’s
appropriate response to the felt need for greater political           purpose – or its basic projects, or its principles – can only be
accountability may become clearer.                                    sound interpretive practice and good law. The Chief Justice,
     The other moment of political attention came in May              in her speech to a foreign audience, was attempting to convey
when MP Maurice Vellacott attacked the Supreme Court on               a sense of the intellectual challenge of adjudicating Canadian
the basis of a speech given by Chief Justice McLachlin (it            constitutionalism. In doing so she described perfectly
appears that Mr. Vellacott based his comments on a press              acceptable strategies for gaining understanding and to have
report of a speech the Chief Justice gave in New Zealand) in          described her as assuming the mantle of divinity was unfair.
which she described the Supreme Court’s resort in some cases               On the other hand, how a supreme court justifies its
to unwritten constitutional principles as bases of decisions or       decisions – by reference to what interpretive guides – is a
as sources for understanding the normative projects of the            matter of intense political interest and Mr. Vellacott only
Constitution. However carefully the Chief Justice may have            pointed out the Canadian Supreme Court’s fairly recent resort
explained how unwritten constitutional principles can                 to ideas at the most abstract level – ideas that are not explicitly
influence decisions, Mr. Vellacott saw judges as claiming God-        expressed but can only be inferred from general constitutional
like powers. Admittedly, the God metaphor is effective in             relationships – to justify its decisions. Both abstraction and
conveying the sense that Supreme Court judges are both                absence of direct textual warrant do, of course, expand
unbounded in their powers and above any form of                       interpretive power and elevate the role of subtle and, perhaps,
accountability. The Canadian Bar Association saw Mr.                  personal discernment in adjudication. Furthermore, theories
Vellacott’s accusation that judges exercise God-like power as a       of interpretation with respect to a national constitution are
misrepresentation of the Chief Justices’ words and injurious to       meant to be examined, debated and criticized. This is exactly
the reputation of the Supreme Court. The Bar Association              what was, unfortunately, foreclosed in the parliamentary
called on Prime Minister Harper to remove Mr. Vellacott               review of Justin Rothstein’s nomination and what Mr.
from his position as chair of a parliamentary committee as            Vellacott may have been seeking to engender. Canada needs
acknowledgment of the extent to which he had breached the             to stop shrinking from the debates that would allow
standards of commentary on the judicial branch.                       Canadians to understand the processes by which their
     There are two sensible reactions to Mr. Vellacott’s attack.      constitution is shaped.

                                                                                          Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue            17
       To Elect or Appoint: A Debate on Canadian Senators

       In a political system where election to office is the exception and appointment the rule, be it for governor
       general, prime minister and premiers, ministers, or judges, what makes election to the Senate an improvement
       which its proponents treat as self-evident?

                                    In Electing Senators, Context is All-important
                                                           DAVID E. SMITH

     R   ichard Rose, the British political scientist, once wrote
that the prize in social science research should go not to the
                                                                          concerns, while senators would adopt (as now) a more
                                                                          national viewpoint? (U.S. Senator William Fulbright may
person who gives the best answers but to the person who asks              have been from Arkansas, but his reputation was as a
the best questions. The aptness of that epigram is borne out              politician of national and international prominence). Who
by the discussion that surrounds Stephen Harper’s                         might be attracted to campaigns for a seat in the upper
announced intention to make Canadian senators elected.                    chamber? Would party professionals, who critics have long
Leaving aside anything else the prime minister has said about             complained are favourites for appointment, now be
the upper house, such as introducing terms in place of the                favourites for election? Which considerations would
existing age limit for senators, is there a question for which            determine whether a candidate chose to enter a House or a
electing senators provides an answer?                                     Senate contest? Would the upper chamber be the preferred
     That Canada is the only federation in the world whose                entry point, or would potential senators have to earn their
legislature has an appointed upper                                                                    stripes in the Commons before
house; or that appointment in the                                                                     the party battalions backed them
                                           Are we, as a society, sure that we really want a Senate
twenty-first century may offend                                                                       for the second chamber? Even if,
                                           with the legitimacy to use the full scope of its existing
democratic sensibilities—these are                                                                    in their relations with the
                                           powers, possibly to stymie the House of Commons?
statements of fact. The question                                                                      Commons, popularly sanctioned
                                           Are we clear about why we would need a second
that needs to be asked in response                                                                    senators were to maintain the
                                           elected body? What effect would an elected second
to the PM’s proposal is this: What                                                                    constitutional self-restraint that
                                           chamber have on political decision-making in
kind of upper house would best                                                                        marks appointed senators,
serve Canada’s constitutional                                                                         would not the dynamic of
arrangement of power? In a                                                                            parliamentary bicameralism in
political system where election to office is the exception and            Canada be permanently changed?
appointment the rule, be it for governor general, prime                        Obviously, it is unreasonable to expect the prime
minister and premiers, ministers, or judges, what makes                   minister to answer these and similar questions when he
election to the Senate an improvement which its proponents                makes a proposal such as he has to elect senators. But then,
treat as self-evident?                                                    it is equally unreasonable – or perhaps the better word is,
     So unquestioned are the assumptions that neither the                 inexplicable – to propose constitutional change on the fly.
mechanics nor possible consequences of senatorial contests                Once upon a time in Canada, constitutional changes of this
are explored. For instance, would these elections be                      magnitude would warrant a White Paper followed by public
conducted using the plurality voting system, the one so                   discussion. Think of the documents on constitutional
widely criticized today for its exclusionary effects in House of          amendment over the signatures of the Guy Favreau or E.
Commons campaigns—that is, where middle-class, middle-                    Davey Fulton, Ministers of Justice in the 1960s. Somehow –
aged white men are the prime beneficiaries? Would elections               and this is not a Conservative predilection only since the
be at large or would there be senatorial districts? Would MPs,            Martin Government on occasion was equally
with their constituency interests, become more local in their             undiscriminating – the distinction between political and

18     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
constitutional change has been lost.                                   Piecemeal changes that do not respect this principle, but
     Canada is a constitutional monarchy with authority                which take the people as the constituent power, make the
residing in the Crown. The coherence of the constitution               constitution incomprehensible. Canadians need to study their
derives from this fundamental principle. At the same time,             constitution, agree on the principle they wish it to embody
this is the source of the problem, since constitutional                and then enunciate that principle clearly. Only then should
monarchy rests largely on the unwritten constitution.                  they proceed to institute change where it is deemed desirable.

                      Electing Senators: Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences
                                                                IAN PEACH

    T    his summer, Prime Minister Harper not only set in to limit the Senate’s powers to block the will of the House of
motion a process to amend the Constitution to limit the Commons would need to be drafted. As well, at least seven
terms of Senators to eight years, he stated his intention to provinces would have to concur with an amendment to select
have a procedure for electing Senators in place by the time of Senators by election before it could become law and we can
the next federal election. While the Prime Minister’s advisors safely assume that Premiers would have views on the questions
are likely correct that creating limited terms for Senators is a it raises. Should Canadians not also have an opportunity to
minor constitutional amendment that Parliament can make fully explore the implications of the Prime Minister’s proposal
alone, the election of Senators is an idea of a very different and consider alternatives?
character. Discussion of the election of Senators will                            The election of Senators also triggers a discussion of
inevitably lead to a renewal of calls for a “Triple-E” Senate, a equality of representation in the Senate. One of the key
major change to that chamber that requires some degree of complaints about the current Senate, especially from the
provincial concurrence. If Mr. Harper is serious about having Conservative heartland of Alberta, is that it replicates, rather
Senators elected in the next federal election, he needs to begin than counter-balances, the Central Canadian dominance of
a serious intergovernmental, and public,                                                      the House of Commons. Proposals to make
discussion on Senate reform now.                                                              the Senate a “House of the Provinces,” with
     Constitutionally, the unelected Senate                                                   equal representation of each province, have
has virtually the same powers as the                                                          a far longer history in Canada than does the
democratically elected House of                                                               discussion of electing Senators. Would the
Commons. It has long been a convention                                                        people of Canada’s new economic
of Parliamentary government in Canada                                                         powerhouses in the “hinterlands” really
that the Senate only exercises its powers                                                     want a Senate with its current composition
on the rarest of occasions, however,                                                          legitimated by the election of Senators? As
because they lack the democratic                                                              with the effectiveness question, Premiers
legitimacy to challenge a decision of the                                                     will no doubt have views on this matter and
House of Commons. For the most part,                                                          our constitutional amending formula tells
Canadians seem happy with this                                                                us that their views count.
arrangement, certainly happier than they                                                           It would seem almost inevitable that
would be with the alternative of the                Photo courtesy of Kathy Jaster-Haacke.    any concrete proposal to elect Senators will
current Senate exercising its constitutional                                                 renew the debate about the other two “E”s of
powers. Electing Senators, however, brings an end to the “Triple-E” – equality of representation and effectiveness of the
reason the Senate is so deferential to the House of Commons. chamber. This is as it should be – serious Senate reform can-
Are we, as a society, sure that we really want a Senate with the not be a piecemeal enterprise, undertaken in the absence of
legitimacy to use the full scope of its existing powers, possibly intergovernmental discussion and, more importantly, mean-
to stymie the House of Commons? Are we clear about why ingful public debate. If the Prime Minister is sincere in his
we would need a second elected body? What effect would an desire to reform the Senate in the near future, and there is no
elected second chamber have on political decision-making in reason to believe he is not, now is the time for him to initiate
Canada?                                                                    discussions on a comprehensive Senate reform with his fellow
     For Parliament to function effectively, these issues need to First Ministers and with the Canadian public.
be addressed and it is likely that new constitutional provisions

                                                                                           Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue            19
        A Movement Gaining Momentum

        Restorative justice is an initiative to address the problems arising from the present justice system. We need to
        look beyond the present system based on rationalism and the assumption that a “reasonable person” would
        change his/her behaviour when the punishment fits the crime.

     R   estorative Justice has become a major concept and
basis for initiatives that flow from its principles. Con-
                                                                        consequences as the corrective initiatives.
                                                                             Restorative justice emphasises relationship, taking
tributions to the development of restorative justice as a major         responsibility, addressing issues of the victim, rehabilitation,
factor in justice services have come from several significant           treatment and integration of the offender and cohesion of the
sources.                                                                community. On cohesion of the community, this means
     Restorative Justice has its roots in justice as formulated         addressing social issues in the community, policing’s role not
and practised in communities before industrialization and               only of enforcing the law, but equally important keeping the
urbanization became major factors in human history.                     peace - as their designation as “peace officers” implies.
     Community justice was based on safety of the                            There are a number of streams of initiatives that have
community, maintaining a cohesive and positive community,               contributed heavily to the restorative justice movement.
relationships, accountability and social order. There were                   The longest standing initiative is one that gained
also some major problems with community justice.                        momentum shortly after the Second World War. This is
Assumptions of guilt could be wrong for                                                             when rehabilitation, treatment and
a number of reasons such as superstition,         Community justice was based on safety of          integration of the offender into
prejudice and status. Another problem             the community, maintaining a cohesive and         society became an important
was that not all persons were treated             positive community, relationships, account-       principle and programs were
equally. In addition, offenders could             ability and social order. There were also         designed to implement these
become life long debtors or slaves to the         some major problems with community jus-           principles. Programs such as
victim when the victim was powerful or            tice. Assumptions of guilt could be wrong         probation, parole, counselling,
if the damage was beyond what any                 for a number of reasons such as superstition,     social and sport activities, training
person could repay in a lifetime.                 prejudice and status. Another problem was         and education opportunities were
     The modern justice system                    that not all persons were treated equally.        implemented. The role of prisons
addressed many of the problems with                                                                 was also changed from persons
earlier community justice patterns.                                                                 being incarcerated for punishment
With the solutions to the problems, many of the positive                to being incarcerated as punishment.
elements in community justice were also abandoned.                           A second initiative came from the academic community.
     Restorative justice is an initiative to address the problems       Criminology in the field of sociology provided important
arising from the present justice system. One author suggests            analyses of social issues that impinged on individuals and
that we need to “change lenses”. That is, look beyond the               societies that resulted in increases in fragmentation or
present system based on rationalism and the assumption that             disintegration of communities and/or societies, resulting in
a “reasonable person” would change his/her behaviour when               increased social problems including increased criminal
the punishment fits the crime. Restorative justice also                 activity. Criminologists examined the age old question of
addresses issues facing victims who are generally ignored               why people engage in criminal behaviour. It was found that
except as witnesses in the classic current justice system, which        identifying causes of crime was elusive, but one could quite
does not deal with relationships and generally advises                  clearly identify correlates of crime. In other words, there were
offenders not to take responsibility. The traditional criminal          social and societal conditions under which criminal activity
justice system depended on deterrence and fear of                       increased in societies. In the mid 1970s, a sub discipline of

20     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
Victimology emerged that addressed the implications of crime retaining perspective. This is even more important for a
on victims.                                                            person having spent substantial time in prison after criminal
     A third important dimension is provided by aboriginal behaviour.
communities. These initiatives came largely from New                       Persons released on warrant expiry who are desirous of
Zealand and North America but also from Australia and positive integration into the community have the possibility
South America. The contributions include a focus on the of having a Circle of Support and Accountability formed with
importance of Circles - healing, talking, sentencing circles are them. A Circle is generally composed of five or six persons in
examples - family group conferencing and inclusive the community who are willing to commit to such a project.
community processes to deal with deviant behaviour. The They agree to meet with the core member. The Circle is a
importance of spirituality and getting in touch with one’s friendship group that generally meets once a week with the
inner being and the Creator have lead the way in secular core member and can meet more often, particularly in the
society, moving in the direction of acknowledging the beginning, in order to assist the person to get settled.
importance of spirituality. This has made is easier for Forming trusting relationships is an important aspect of the
mainstream Faiths to also get a hearing.                               process.
     A final stream is Christian initiatives. This includes                There are generally around 100 Circles in Canada at any
practical approaches such as victim/offender mediation, the one time. In Saskatchewan, there are presently four Circles
importance of reconciliation, forgiveness based on operating in Regina and several in Saskatoon and in Prince
accountability, Community and institutional chaplaincy have Albert.
addressed the issues of the connection between spirituality,               An example is the very first Circle that was established in
the community, victim and offender.                                    Hamilton some two decades ago. When Charlie returned to
     One of the more recent developments based on the the community on warrant expiry, Hamilton was on edge
principles of restorative justice are Circles of Support and about his return. 24-hour surveillance was put on his
Accountability (COSAs).                                                apartment. The pastor of a downtown street church was asked
     COSAs were developed when                                                                     if he could arrange a support group
persons began to be discharged from            COSAs were developed on a set of                    for Charlie. This is a story that has
prison after serving their full term, that     understandings about human nature and               been written up in its own right.
is, until warrant expiry. After warrant        based on some important principles. ...[I]t         Suffice it to say that a support and
expiry discharge, there was no authority       was understood that persons coming into a           accountability        group      was
to provide support or service to the           hostile community with no positive contacts         developed and Charlie did not go
person. Generally an ex offender in this       were likely to connect with persons he/she          back to prison until he died within
situation had been in prison a long time       knew, which were generally negative, and            the last year. This experience made
and had no positive contacts in the            the possibility of re-offending was increased.      both professionals and the
community.          Being      considered                                                          community recognize that there
dangerous offenders - even if they had                                                             was great potential in such support
not been officially designated as such - the community feared and accountability groups. At any given time, there are
for its safety. We do not have space to provide an extensive approximately 100 such Circles in Canada.
record of the development here.                                            Evaluations have been done in Ontario and across
     COSAs were developed on a set of understandings about Canada. It is established that COSAs assist persons in
human nature and based on some important principles.                   reintegration and fewer warrant expiry persons return to
     First, it was understood that persons coming into a hostile offending and those who do re-offend do so after more time
community with no positive contacts were likely to connect in the community or are involved in lesser offences.
with persons he/she knew, which were generally negative, and               There is great potential with COSAs. A former
the possibility of re-offending was increased. Secondly, it is Commissioner of Penitentiaries suggested that it should be an
generally recognized that most human beings have circles of objective to have every person discharged from prison have a
support and accountability: family, friends, clubs, faith Circle.
community, etc. The phrase “no one is an island” is
commonly used. Thirdly, it is human to move toward                                     Become a SIPP Member today!
activities, involvements and connections that are                                            Visit our website at
questionable, even though they may not be criminal. Our                  
social and psychological networks of people assist us in

                                                                                          Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue           21
       The Rural-Urban Divide in Sasktchewan

       The Myth underlying the Rural-Urban Divide ignores this interdependence between rural and urban
       Saskatchewan, to the detriment of both. Cities owe their very existence to rural citizens, being their service
       centers. Likewise, many urbanites choose to live in rural communities for “lifestyle” purposes and commute
       back to the city.

     D   ale Eisler’s recent book, False Expectations: Politics
and the Pursuit of the Saskatchewan Myth noted the central
                                                                       most comprehensive measure of growth and vitality and one
                                                                       that is dear to our hearts in Saskatchewan.
role of Myth in Saskatchewan’s psyche. One myth that needs                  More specifically, a map of Saskatchewan shows
debunking for the benefit of this province is the Myth of              widespread population losses in rural areas over the 1991-
conflicting economic interests that underlies the Rural-               2001 period (a similar pattern would apply to most decades
Urban divide.                                                          in the second half of the 20 century). But if we place 100km
     Vividly evident at election times, deeply-rooted                  rings around the nine urban centers of at least 10,000 people,
perceptions that rural and urban futures lead down different           we see the signs of positive rural spill-overs from the urban
paths in Saskatchewan (and Canada), are part of the reason             areas. Urban centred growth benefits the surrounding rural
for the rural-urban divide. Saskatchewan’s rural communities           areas. About 85 percent of Saskatchewan’s population lives
have struggled for decades, while the largest cities have              within the 100km rings, and about 73 percent of the
prospered.                                                             province’s rural population (rural is defined here as the
     Urbanites may perceive rural areas as taking too many             population that does not live in the nine centres with
government resources away from pressing urban needs.                   10,000+ population) is inside the 100km rings.
Ruralites often feel that they don’t get their deserved respect             The Myth underlying the Rural-Urban Divide ignores
as key producers of raw materials and stewards of the                  this interdependence between rural and urban Saskatchewan,
province’s natural environment.                                                                   to the detriment of both. Cities
     The entire Great Plains region,       About 85 percent of Saskatchewan’s population          owe their very existence to rural
including Saskatchewan, has                lives within the 100km rings, and about 73             citizens, being their service centers.
exhibited persistently declining           percent of the province’s rural population (rural      Saskatoon and Regina would not
rural population. This regardless of       is defined here as the population that does not        have gained prominence if it were
whether the state or province is           live in the nine centres with 10,000+                  not for their agricultural history.
governed by “conservative” or              population) is inside the 100km rings.                 Today, urbanites also benefit from
“liberal” ideologies. The primary                                                                 rural communities being the
cause is increasing agricultural                                                                  stewards of much of our land,
productivity which implies an ever-shrinking demand for                green space, water, and natural recreational opportunities.
rural labour. The lack of compensating mountains, lakes,               Likewise, many urbanites choose to live in rural communities
oceans, and pleasant winters hastens the decline of most               for “lifestyle” purposes and commute back to the city. Urban
Great Plains rural communities.                                        employers need the rural workforce, while other firms such
     Yet, our research suggests that rural areas capture               as food processors or urbanites locate in ex-urban
significant benefits of urban growth, a trend that appears to          communities for lower land and labour costs. The typical
be stronger in Canada than in the U.S. In particular,                  urban resident may not appreciate these factors.
Canadian cities greater than 500,000—such as Winnipeg                       Rural residents also regularly overlook their symbiotic
and Calgary—have the largest positive spread effects into              relationship with their city cousins. Besides being a market
nearby rural communities, though cities as small as 10,000             for their products, cities are an essential source of jobs for
also generate positive spill-overs in their vicinity. These            rural commuters, critical for sustaining rural communities.
benefits are observed in terms of population growth, the best          The reality of 21st century Saskatchewan is that most rural

22     Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue
communities lack the critical mass to induce their own would require:
economic growth without linking to urban “growth poles.”
Over time rural communities losing population fall below                               Recognizing that vibrant urban centres with cultural
threshold sizes for critical services such as schools, clinics, and              amenities and diversity are our engines of growth.
retail. Losing services induces further out-migration—a                                New governance arrangements that allow both urban
vicious circle that has been repeated over and over across the                    and rural residents to participate in decisions of mutual
Great Plains. Access to urban employment through                                 interest—zoning, economic development, and
commuting has been shown to be the most effective way to                          infrastructure.
stem this tide in Canada.                                                              Infrastructure investments that effectively move
     All Saskatchewan residents benefit when their rural                          people (not just goods) between rural areas and cities.
communities are more viable, as rural decline has many                                 Better planning at the urban/rural interface to
hidden costs. Not only are many rural residents forced to                         manage rural-urban conflict, protect valuable green
make unwanted relocations to urban centers, but cities bear                       space, and better plan the location of roads, water,
significant costs. First, they need to construct new                             sewage, etc.
infrastructure while an already existing rural infrastructure is                       An effective immigration policy based on an
being abandoned. Second, the resulting urban growth may                          acknowledgement that the probability of attracting and
manifest itself as sprawl that denigrates the environment and                    retaining immigrants is highest in strong, vibrant urban
increases congestion.                                                            centres.
     Finally, rural decline inevitably leads to calls for                              Targeted strategies (such as tourism) to address the
government subsidies, which are often poorly designed, while                    challenges faced by communities beyond the reach of
the resulting higher taxes put the province at a disadvantage.                  urban growth benefits. While it must be recognized that it
     All is not lost by any means. A recent report by the                       is impossible to “save” every community, strategic efforts
Conference Board of Canada, Canada’s Hub Cities: A Driving                      will be more successful than current unfocussed
Force of the National Economy, detailing the important role of                  approaches.
cities like Saskatoon and Regina, supports our
findings. Given that urban-led growth is the
reality of 21st century Canada, how do we
ensure that our urban centres are attractive
places for native and immigrant populations?
How do we harness this growth so that all
Saskatchewan residents—rural and urban
     First, policies based on the historic
misconception that agriculture and rural
prosperity are synonymous have served neither
farmers nor rural communities well. Both farm
policy and rural policy are too important to be
thrown together in some sort of catch-all
policy that is bound to fail. Further, we must
avoid gimmicks and schemes that involve
attempts to increase ‘value-added’ in the rural
economy through publicly subsidized                         Photos courtesy of Audio Visual Services at the University of Regina and Don Hall Photography.
/mandated enterprises. Though clearly there
are strategies that are profitable for individual businesses, we                 A better understanding of the positive interdependencies
have over 50 years of experience with contrived efforts that are between rural and urban areas can expose the Myth of
expensive and too narrowly focused to turn the tide in most conflicting economic interests underlying the Rural-Urban
rural communities.                                                         Divide for what it is. When one prospers, the other gains as
     Foremost among strategies with higher probabilities of well. When all Saskatchewanians and Canadians cooperate, it
success are those that harness the urban engines of growth and is to everyone’s benefit.
ensure that the benefits spread beyond the urban centres. This

                                                                                                      Fall 2006 - SIPP Policy Dialogue                 23
                                  “A Living Tree:
                                  The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political Evolution”
                                                                 Presented by

                                   April 17, 1982 in many ways marked the culmination of Canada’s constitutional evolution
                                   as a self-governing, liberal democratic federation. Yet the evolution of our constitutional and
DATE: May 23 - 25, 2007            political norms have not, in fact, ended with the proclamation of the 1982 Constitution;
 LOCATION: Regina, SK              instead, it may even be accelerating as a consequence of the new constitutional principles
                                   enshrined in the text of that Act.
    JANUARY 2007                   In honour of the 25     anniversary of the proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, the

                                   Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy (SIPP) is organizing the conference “A Living Tree:
                                   The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political Evolution” to be held in Regina, May 23-25, 2007.
                                   SIPP seeks to advance the public policy discourse on Canada’s continuing constitutional
                                   development by providing a forum in which scholars, practitioners, and the policy
                                   community can openly evaluate the impact that the 1982 Constitution has had on public
                                   policy and democratic politics in Canada to date and how it might continue to influence
                                   our evolution as a political community.

                                   For  more information on this conference, please visit SIPP’s website at
                          or call (306) 585-5777. Registration will open January 2007.

                    SIPP Event Calendar 2006-07
     October 2006                                                  January 2007
            October 25th - SIPP Armchair Discussion with                   Registration opens for SIPP Conference “A Living
            guest speaker, Tony Penekitt (Mr. Penekitt’s new               Tree: The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political
            book Reconciliation First Nations Treaty Making in             Evolution”. Details and registration forms are
            British Columbia is available for purchase at this             available on SIPP’s website,
            event)                                                         Start of 2007 President’s Leadership Program
            Release of SIPP Student Public Policy Essays from
            the 2005-2006 SIPP Student Essay Contest               February 2007
                                                                          Release of SIPP Policy Dialogue, winter edition
     November 2006
                                                                   April 2007
            SIPP Members’ Night
                                                                           April 30th - Submissions deadline for the 2006-
            November 14th - SIPP Saskatoon events “The Last
                                                                           2007 SIPP Student Essay Contest
            Straw”, with Prof. Murray Fulton; and
            “Internationalization and Governing Canadian           May 2007
            Agriculture and Food” with Prof. Grace Skogstad                May 23-25 - SIPP conference, “A Living Tree:
            Registration opens for the 2007 President’s                    The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political
            Leadership Program                                             Evolution” will take place at Hotel Saskatchewan
     December 2006                                                 June 2007
           SIPP Christmas Reception                                       Release of SIPP Policy Dialogue, spring edition

To top