Intergovernmental Relations, Legitimacy, and the Atlantic Accords

Jennifer Smith


Are the Atlantic Accords regarded as legiti- mate agreements in Canada? If not, why not? And does it matter? The purpose of this article is to answer these questions.

Legitimacy resides in the eyes of the be- holder. Who is the beholder? Initially, one thinks mainly of citizens in this respect. How- ever, another beholder is government — other governments. In federations, governments of- ten deal directly with one another, a sphere of activity called executive federalism. When the central government negotiates agreements with one or more (but not all) regional governments, the rest are relegated to the status of observ- ers. As observers, they might well have ideas on the legitimacy of the activity, including the process used and the resulting agreement that is reached.

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