Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
'A Justifiable Obsession'

'A Justifiable Obsession': Conservative Ontario's Relations with Ottawa, 1943-1985

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 340
  • Book Info
    'A Justifiable Obsession'
    Book Description:

    'A Justifiable Obsession'traces the evolution of Ontario's relationship with the federal government in the years following the Second World War.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6382-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    In the nineteenth century, Ontario’s relationship with Ottawa was virtually a spectator sport. In one corner was Oliver Mowat, the long-serving Liberal premier of Ontario, who questioned the extent of federal jurisdiction over natural resources, the powers of the lieutenant governor, and the determination of the territorial boundaries of the province. In the other was Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, disallowing legislation, referring questions to the courts, and generally poking the provincial premier into a fight. The two were political adversaries in as many ways as possible – their party, legislature, and approach to governance were all widely divergent – and...

  5. Chapter One “The ‘Keystone’ Province”: George Drew’s Ontario, 1943–1946
    (pp. 10-33)

    George Drew, leader of the Conservative party in Ontario from 1938 until he assumed the same position with the national party a decade later, and premier of Ontario from 1943 until 1948, was responsible for initiating what would be a fundamental reorientation of the relationship between Ontario and Ottawa. The shift was determined as much by circumstance as by inclination: Drew inherited a province that faced a much more muscular federal government than had any of his predecessors. The exigencies of wartime gave Ottawa the excuse for centralization, and the courts were increasingly reluctant to expand provincial powers in the...

  6. Chapter Two “As Long as We Define the Terms”: George Drew’s Canada, 1946–1948
    (pp. 34-52)

    In the weeks following the adjournment of the Dominion-Provincial Conference on Reconstruction, Prime Minister King remained convinced that the premiers had been right in accusing Ilsley and others of rigidity. He reprimanded his cabinet ministers for “taking the wrong course in handing the provinces an excuse for an attack on us on the score of centralization.”¹ But while privately blame might be placed on the finance minister and his advisers Clifford Clark and Graham Towers, in public it was Drew who was depicted as the “Big Bad Wolf of the Dominion-Provincial Conference” and, along with Duplessis, was accused by one...

  7. Chapter Three “Know and Understand the Problems”: Leslie Frost Makes His Mark, 1949–1952
    (pp. 53-78)

    While George Drew was settling into his new position as the leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives in the fall of 1948, the Liberals prepared to welcome Louis St. Laurent as the new prime minister. Elected at a convention in mid-summer, there had never been much doubt that St. Laurent was Mackenzie King’s chosen successor. Only the justice minister himself had worried about his suitability, with less than a decade of service in elected politics and a francophone background that might split both the Liberal party and the country itself. But after winning a surprisingly large mandate on the first...

  8. Chapter Four “Ontario’s Earnest Desire for National Unity”: New Policies, New Approaches, 1952–1960
    (pp. 79-104)

    Leslie Frost’s decision to rent provincial tax fields to the federal government was, in many ways, a monumental one. His government had given little indication in the early months of 1952 that there was anything more agreeable about the new offer than there had been about the old one, and indeed, apart from a slightly sweeter financial settlement it appeared that Ontario gained little in accepting the deal. Moreover, the central province appeared to reverse two key elements of its traditional position: Frost’s agreement put an end to Ontario’s insistence on not isolating Quebec, as well as to its long-standing...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. Chapter Five “A Lasting Effect on Confederation Itself”: Robarts and the Realignment of Intergovernmental Relations, 1961–1964
    (pp. 105-128)

    Leslie Frost’s decision to bow out of provincial politics in the summer of 1961 should not have come as a surprise to anyone. He had hinted at it for months, debating only the timing of his announcement. This he ultimately opted to make on the eve of the first national convention of the New Democratic party, skilfully taking the front page of the next day’s newspapers away from his old colleague around the conference table, Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas, who had just been elected as the NDP’s first leader. Whether Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party would be able to find as...

  11. Chapter Six “Profound Changes in the Character of Canadian Federalism”: Ontario Charts a New Course, 1964–1966
    (pp. 129-151)

    The mid-1960s marked a turning point in Ontario’s relations with the federal government. For most of the postwar period, successive Ontario governments had been attempting to articulate an alternative interpretation of the national interest on particular issues, whether it was in proposing new tax-sharing arrangements or ensuring that discussions of national health insurance were placed on the intergovernmental agenda. This was a strategy that was in contrast to the head-on confrontations that characterized premiers’ approaches to Ottawa before the Second World War, but it was also one that was experiencing little success. Too often Ontario’s version of the national interest...

  12. Chapter Seven “See if We Can’t Amend the Marriage Contract”: The Confederation of Tomorrow Conference and Beyond, 1967–1971
    (pp. 152-178)

    The year 1967 was Canada’s centennial year, which meant that there were innumerable schemes for celebrating the success of the young nation, from the spectacle of Montreal’s Expo to the transnational canoe pageant that was meant to repeat the accomplishments of the explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In Ottawa, there were the usual plans for fireworks and 1 July celebrations, but there was also a push to complete several projects that would secure Canada’s position as a mature nation. The year was certainly one for commemorating past triumphs, but it was also an opportunity for rejuvenation, for house...

  13. Chapter Eight “Disentanglement” and Mega-intergovernmental Politics in Ontario, 1971–1978
    (pp. 179-202)

    The collapse of the Victoria Charter was a significant setback for intergovernmental relations in Canada, ending, as it did, the momentum towards constitutional change that had been gathering since Ontario convened the Confederation of Tomorrow Conference in 1967.¹ Exhaustion, cynicism, and defeatism overtook most of the participants, and they turned their attention to other, more pressing, matters of state. But failure overshadowed Ontario’s approach to federal-provincial relations throughout most of the 1970s, colouring the strategy that the Davis government pursued over the next half-dozen or more years. The Victoria situation seemed to point to the failure of the Robartsian tactic...

  14. Chapter Nine “The Hot Gospel of Confederation”: Securing a New Constitution
    (pp. 203-225)

    Once the conversation about constitutional renewal began, it was extremely difficult to stop. There were certainly other matters on the intergovernmental agenda, including the direction of the economy and the future of social policy arrangements, but the constitution continued to obsess Ontario bureaucrats and politicians. By the end of the 1970s, Ontario had spent at least a decade, first informally and then more officially, pursuing a first-principles approach to the federal-provincial relationship: rather than getting mired in the minutiae of the individual intergovernmental deals and programs, the provincial actors had tried to focus on fundamental issues of equitable monetary and...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 226-232)

    In the spring of 1985, after forty-two uninterrupted years in power, the Conservative party in Ontario was finally ousted from office. The arrival of David Peterson in the premier’s office, on the strength of an agreement with the New Democrats, brought a new approach to intergovernmental relations in the central province. Or, at least, it brought an opportunity for a new approach that had not existed since the Second World War, when the Conservative domination of the political environment meant that successive administrations may have operated as much out of inertia on the federal-provincial front as out of any real...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 233-288)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-304)
  18. Index
    (pp. 305-311)