Equalization, Regional Development, and Political Trust: The Section 36/Atlantic Accords Controversy

James Bickerton


The controversy generated by the federal government’s unilateral alteration of the Atlan- tic Accords,1 and the subsequent bitter political standoff between the federal government and the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfound- land and Labrador, was the initial stimulus for this article. The agreements, the alleged breach of trust involved in their unilateral alteration, and the political fallout, manoeuvrings, and ne- gotiations that followed, raise a number of is- sues about the mechanisms and pathologies of executive federalism in Canada. This episode also provides some insight into a continuing source of misunderstanding and grievance that persists in centre-periphery relations in Canada — the issues of equalization and regional devel- opment. The purpose of this article is to use the controversy as a case study to inquire into these issues, with a view to making an incremental contribution to the critical literature on the in- stitutions of Canadian federalism.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21991/C9WT1P


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