Federalism is at once a set of institutions -- the division ofpublic authority between two or more constitutionally defined orders ofgovernment -- and a set of ideas which underpin such institutions. Asan idea, federalism points us to issues such as shared and dividedsovereignty, multiple loyalties and identities, and governance throughmulti-level institutions.
Seen in this more complex way, federalism is deeply relevant to awide range of issues facing contemporary societies. Global forces --economic and social -- are forcing a rethinking of the role of thecentral state, with power and authority diffusing both downwards tolocal and state institutions and upwards to supranational bodies.Economic restructuring is altering relationships within countries, aswell as the relationships of countries with each other. At a societallevel, the recent growth of ethnic and regional nationalisms -- mostdramatically in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but also inmany other countries in western Europe and North America -- is forcinga rethinking of the relationship between state and nation, and of themeaning and content of 'citizenship.'
Rethinking Federalism explores the power and relevance offederalism in the contemporary world, and provides a wide-rangingassessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and potential in a variety ofcontexts. Interdisciplinary in its approach, it brings together leadingscholars from law, economics, sociology, and political science, many ofwhom draw on their own extensive involvement in the public policyprocess. Among the contributors, each writing with the authority ofexperience, are Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa and Jacques Pelkmans on theEuropean Union, Paul Chartrand on Aboriginal rights, Samuel Beer onNorth American federalism, Alan Cairns on identity, and VsevolodVasiliev on citizenship after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The themes refracted through these different disciplines andpolitical perspectives include nationalism, minority protection,representation, and economic integration. The message throughout thisvolume is that federalism is not enough -- rights protection andrepresentation are also of fundamental importance in designingmulti-level governments.close this panel
Karen Knop is an assistant professor in the Faculty ofLaw at the University of Toronto. Sylvia Ostry isChair of the Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto,and Chancellor of the University of Waterloo. RichardSimeon is a professor of Political Science and Law at theUniversity of Toronto and Vice-Chair of the Ontario Law ReformCommission. Katherine Swinton is a professor in theFaculty of Law, cross-appointed to the Department of Political Science,at the University of Toronto.close this panel