Introduction: Exploring the Dilemmas of Solidarity

“Introduction: Exploring the Dilemmas of Solidarity” in Sujit Choudhry, J.-F. Gaudreault-DesBiens & L. Sossin, eds., Dilemmas of Solidarity: Rethinking Redistribution in the Canadian Federation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006) (with J.-F. Gaudreault-DesBiens & L. Sossin) 1-28.

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Since the rise of the Canadian welfare state in the aftermath of the Second World War, the politics of social policy and fiscal federalism have been at the center of federal-provincial relations. Dilemmas of Solidarity re-examines and interrogates some basic aspects of the institutions and policies of the “Social Union”, a term coined by Keith Banting and others to emphasize that the Canadian welfare state had to adapt to the reality of federalism. At the core of debates over the Social Union and fiscal federalism are debates about redistribution within the Canadian federation. There are fundamentally different ways of conceptualizing what the appropriate character and scope of redistribution should be. Disagreement over these basic questions of principle generates disagreement on particulars. At a deeper level, these debates turn on different visions of the type of political community Canada is. Indeed, the dilemmas of solidarity raised by redistribution within the federation are, in the end, dilemmas about Canada itself.