The Richer versus the Poorer Provinces since Confederation.

The untold history of how Ottawa tackled fiscal inequalities among the resentful provinces.

In 1957, after a century of scathing debates and threats of provincial separation, Ottawa finally tackled the dangerous fiscal inequalities among its richer and poorer provinces. Equalization grants allowed the poorer provinces to provide relatively equal services for relatively equal levels of taxation.

The Art of Sharing tells the dramatic history of Canada’s efforts to save itself. The introduction of federal equalization grants was controversial, and wealthier provinces such as Alberta – wanting to keep more of their taxpayers’ money for their own governments – continue to attack them today. Mary Janigan argues that the elusive ideal of fiscal equity, in spite of dissent from richer provinces, has helped preserve Canada as a united nation. Janigan goes back to Confederation to trace the escalating tensions among the provinces across decades as voters demanded more services to survive in a changing world. She also uncovers the continuing contacts between Canada and Australia as both dominions struggled to placate disgruntled member states and provinces that blamed the very act of federation for their woes. By the mid-twentieth century, trapped between the demands of social activists and Quebec’s insistence on its right to run its own social programs, Ottawa adopted non-conditional grants in compromise.

The history of equalization in Canada has never been fully explored. Introducing the idealistic Canadians who fought for equity along with their radically different proposals to achieve it, The Art of Sharing makes the case that a willingness to share financial resources is the real tie that has bound the federation together into the twenty-first century.

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This bumpy road to equalization is the subject of Mary Janigan’s The Art of Sharing, and it is not damning with faint praise to say that the book is vastly more interesting than the arcane subject matter at hand…The Art of Sharing is a book we didn’t know we needed. Janigan uses deep scholarly research — her bibliography is twenty pages long and includes abundant archival material — to illuminate in a readable way the decades-long grudge match between the richer and poorer provinces, with a series of federal governments acting as hesitant referees.”

Literary Review of Canada, Murray Campbell

Explaining fiscal transfers is no easy task…..Canadians are fortunate to have The Art of Sharing to help unravel the puzzle. It should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding not only the origins of Canada’s equalization program but also the conflicting political, social, economic, and fiscal pressures Canadian leaders regularly confront. 

Essays in Economic and Business History, University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe

…an intellectual and research achievement of the first order…

Queen’s University Professor Emeritus Thomas Couchene