Institute of Intergovernmental Relations


2010 State of the Federation Conference

Shifting Power: The New Ontario and what it means for Canada

Canada's policy architecture evolved over the 20th Century. It built a protected national internal market, a strong manufacturing base centred in southwestern Ontario and a set of redistributive policies that supported less prosperous individuals and regions.

But Canada and the world are transforming rapidly. The country faces a set of important new realities:

  • Canadian prosperity is more evenly distributed across Canada's regions
  • Services and natural resources have emerged as the primary drivers of aggregate national growth and of regional inequality
  • Globalization and free trade mean that Canada is, more than ever, competing with countries around the world for investment, human capital, and markets for our goods and services
  • The recent global recession also means that governments across the federation are facing deficits, some of which are structural
  • Demographic changes, including an aging population, will compound the enormous fiscal pressure on many national and provincial programs

During most of the 20th Century, Ontario was unique among Canadian regions in its lack of a strong regional identity, moderating and complicating conflicts over the role of the federal government. Ontarians' stronger support for the federal government during this period was a defining characteristic of many of Canada's political and constitutional debates. It is possible that this feature of Canadian political life is evolving.

To what extent is current public policy capable of addressing these realities? What changes are required to ensure that Canada is positioned to retain and build upon its competitive advantage in the global economy while ensuring the adequacy of programs that its citizens rely upon? To what extent does the policy architecture of the 20th Century, including regional redistribution, need to be modified to reflect recent economic and demographic shifts within the federation? What are the signs and implications of the evolving attitudes to the federation among Ontarians and other Canadians?

Institute of Intergovernmental Relations at Queen's University is partnering with the Mowat Centre to deliver the annual State of the Federation Conference on November 19-20, 2010, at the University of Toronto.

Some of Canada's foremost scholars, thought leaders and public sector executives will examine Ontario's changing role in the Canadian federation and the implications for our national politics and economy.

Download a printable copy of the conference schedule here.

For more information, and to register for the conference click here.