Any project for social and economic equality in Canada faces a challenge: our primary collective lever for change, the state, is a confusing and complicated machine of federal-provincial relationships. Most advocates of a more egalitarian Canada are frustrated by this. Reform energies are lost in doing the “federalism foxtrot” of getting the federal and provincial players on side, while provincial desires to do things their own way conflict with the idea of all Canadians sharing the same economic and social rights. Since at least the 1930s, the dominant view of the equality-seekers has been to strengthen the federal government and its capacity to impose its agenda on the provinces. In a more muted form, Towards A More Equal Canada calls for “federal leadership.”Read more
Comparing inequality between societies is useful, if only to remind us that inequality is not like gravity: there is no “law of inequality”. Political choices matter. True, worsening inequality trends across the OECD countries indicate important structural forces are at work in labour markets and in making it harder for governments to redistribute wealth. But significant variation persists between countries, meaning that we are not fated to become ever more deeply unequal.Read more
Expertise: Democracy, Economic Inequality, Federalism, Intergovernmental Relations
Peter Graefe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. His research focuses on intergovernmental relations in Canadian social policy, as well as the politics of social and economic development strategies in Ontario and Quebec.
His recent work has dealt with the accountability mechanisms in intergovernmental social policy agreements, and with mapping policy thinking in Ontario around poverty reduction and social assistance. Holding his PhD from the Université de Montréal, Peter frequently comments on Ontario politics in the francophone media.