FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

TORONTO AND MONTREAL SHOULD BE PROVINCES

By making our biggest cities our newest provinces we could end the national rule of Ontario and, Quebec and give Toronto and Montreal a chance to make themselves worth living in

DONALD C. ROWAT June 16 1962
FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

TORONTO AND MONTREAL SHOULD BE PROVINCES

By making our biggest cities our newest provinces we could end the national rule of Ontario and, Quebec and give Toronto and Montreal a chance to make themselves worth living in

DONALD C. ROWAT June 16 1962

TORONTO AND MONTREAL SHOULD BE PROVINCES

By making our biggest cities our newest provinces we could end the national rule of Ontario and, Quebec and give Toronto and Montreal a chance to make themselves worth living in

FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

DONALD C. ROWAT

professor of political science, Carleton University

EVER SINCE 1867 this country has been bedeviled by the fact that Ontario and Quebec are elephants among mice. A dominant theme in our history has been the struggle by the Maritimes and the west against the imperialism and influence of these wealthy central provinces. The solution to this problem is simple: carve the region around Toronto out of Ontario and the region around Montreal out of Quebec and make them separate provinces.

You need only compare population figures to realize that Quebec and Ontario are far too large to be sensible units in our federation. While the other provinces average well under a million in population. Quebec has five million and Ontario six. Taken together these two completely overshadow the rest: the other eight arc left with only thirty-seven percent of our population. The result, of course, is that in the federal House of Commons and usually in the governing political party the members from Ontario and Quebec are in the majority by far. Since the Senate doesn't seem to proteci provincial rights as intended, it's small wonder that the east and the west feel they are being sacrificed to the interests of the centre. This helps to explain the rise of third parties in the west. They have been parties of protest against the domination of the industrial centre.

One reason our federation hasn't broken up long ago is that the cultural isolation of Quebec makes it difficult for Quebec and Ontario to combine against the rest of Canada. But the perennial get-tough policy of these provinces in their dealings with the federal government shows that they are far too powerful if our federal system is to work as smoothly as it shotdd. It's true that you often read about state governors in the United States shouting imprecations at their federal government

-—as in the school ■ integration issue. But their barks are worse than their bites and don't shake their federation to its foundations the way the obstreperous stands taken by our premiers from Ontario and Quebec have so often shaken ours. This is simply because the U. S. has so many states that none of them alone represents a great proportion of the total population, wealth and political power.

First, split Ontario . . .

Because of postwar growth in the urban regions of Toronto and Montreal each of these regions now has a population approaching two million, considerably greater than that of any of the provinces outside Ontario and Quebec. Making them separate provinces would reduce Ontario’s population to less than four million and Quebec’s to about three. No province would then have more than about a fifth of Canada’s total population. This plan would also reduce the cultural isolation of Quebec, for French-speaking Canada would no longer be a monolithic, isolated society. The new provinces of Montreal region and the rest of Quebec would follow different paths in their federal-provincial arrangements and in their relations with the rest of Canada. And French Canada would have to fight for its cause in the national arena, thus contributing much more to our national culture.

Another important reason for proposing that metropolitan Montreal and Toronto should become provinces is this. Counting the whole of their urbanized regions, nearly half the population of metropolitan Montreal now lives outside the city boundaries and well over half lives outside Toronto. In other words, these areas have become a new kind of vast, urban agglomeration with region-wide problems demanding region-wide government. Partly because

our provincial legislatures overrepresent farmers, who are not concerned with urban problems, the governments of Ontario and Quebec have not moved far enough and fast enough to solve the problems of these urban regions. T hose who live in them only have to think of planning, housing, parking problems, traffic snarls, crowded buses and local tax inequities to realize this.

Quebec, in particular, has failed to deal effectively with these problems. Although successive commissions have recommended the creation of a new level of government for Montreal's metropolitan region, the province has taken no action. It is true that Ontario has gone further than Quebec by its creation in 1953 of a new government for the Toronto area. But the Metropolitan Corporation takes in only loronto and the twelve immediately adjacent municipalities, while the urbanized region extends west at least as far as Hamilton, and cast perhaps as far as Oshawa. Moreover, it is a cumbersome and confusing extra level of government. Think how much simpler it would be if the urban region were itself a province. Then it could solve its own problems directly instead of having schemes imposed upon it by a vast province whose people know little and care less about its special headaches. And its government could deal directly with federal authorities on major urban problems instead of becoming enmeshed, as at present, in negotiations among four levels of government—municipality, metropolitan authority, province and Ottawa.

. . . Then, split it again

The idea of urban provinces, or citystates, may seem strange to Canadians. Actually, city-states are quite common in the European federal systems. For example. in West Germany, there are Hamburg and Bremen; in Switzerland, Zurich and Basle; and in Austria, Vienna. Berlin, of course, is a special case. In a recent study-tour through Europe I visited most of these city-states and found that they have worked very well within their federations.

It is not easy to say exactly where the boundaries of the new provinces should be, but certainly they should extend far enough to take in areas likely to become

urbanized in future. This would also have the advantage of increasing the populations of the new provinces and reducing the overgrown populations of Quebec and Ontario. 1 hus the province incorporating Montreal would take in not just the whole of Montreal Island but also Jesus Island and the eleven adjacent counties on the north, west and south shores—giving the new province a population of more than two million. The Toronto region would take in the present metropolitan area and the counties of York. Ontario, Peel, Halton and Wentworth (including the city of Hamilton). I his would give it well over two million people.

However, Ontario's remaining population would still be larger than that of any other province, and southern Ontario would be even more seriously cut off from northern and eastern Ontario than it is now. So there would then be a good case for splitting Ontario into two more separate provinces, with Georgian Bay and the eastern boundary of Simcoe County as the dividing line. (Since Simcoe County is part of Toronto’s recreation area, it could be added to the metropolitan province.)

I his would make the English-speaking provinces of Canada more nearly equal in population. I'he three new provinces in Ontario would be the largest, with roughly two million each, followed by British Columbia. with about 1,700.000. Rural Quebec, with over three million, would be the most populous province, and would feel much more secure in the federation; talk about separation from the rest of Canada would then subside.

I have been able to sketch these proposals in only the broadest of terms. Of course a few bothersome details remain to be settled by the politicians—such as what to name the new provinces, where the capital (or capitals) of the new Ontario (or Ontarios) should be. and how to overcome the apparently insuperable political problem of implementing my proposals. But these embarrassing political realities should not obscure the fact that my idea is a stroke of sheer genius. For it would kill two birds with one stone: it would reduce Ontario and Quebec to size; and it would solve the problem of governing our two great urban agglomerations, if