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"Rebalance and Revitalize Canada" Manning & Harris Say

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Release Date: June 6, 2006
Fraser Institute Senior Fellows Preston Manning and Mike Harris today unveiled a series of steps to address Canada's democratic deficit and make it the best governed federation in the world.

The proposals outlined in their third volume of the Canada Strong and Free series of policy papers, Rebalanced & Revitalized, include making government officials legally accountable for purposefully breaking the public trust, greater democratic participation, and rebalanced federal/provincial powers.

"Canada as a nation was built on a vision of peace, order and good government. Today we largely enjoy peace, we take pride in order, but good government remains the exception not the rule," said Harris.

"It is time to make a break with the past," added Manning. "We are proposing simple and long overdue measures that will rebalance and revitalize the way we govern ourselves."

Specifically, Manning and Harris call for:

Revitalized government through increased transparency and accountability

• A Canadian-style "Sarbanes-Oxley" act for government. Company officials who break the trust of shareholders can suffer strong legal penalties; government officials who break the public trust should now know the law of the land applies to them as well.

• Develop and publish an annual Report Card on government to grade government performance by measurable standards.

Revitalized democracy with increased participation and freer votes

• Create citizens assemblies and referendums to give the public direct involvement in democratic reform.

• Revitalize our democracy with freer votes in Parliament and legislatures so the people's representatives can better represent the people who elect them.

Rebalanced Confederation to allow for greater flexibility and efficiency

• Full withdrawal of the federal government from provincial areas of responsibility, particularly education, health care, welfare, and child care, vacating equivalent tax room to the provinces.

• Invigoration of the Council of the Federation as a meeting place to develop strong inter-provincial cooperation and agreements.

Rebalanced federal government checks and balances

• Utilize a democratically elected Senate and a reformed committee structure in Parliament to monitor and check the power of the Cabinet.

• Rehabilitate our Constitution's Notwithstanding Clause so the people and their representatives can block overreaching by courts.

A Canada Strong and Free is published by the Fraser Institute, in cooperation with the Montreal Economic Institute.