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Nested Federalism in Arctic Quebec: A Comparative Perspective

  • Gary N. Wilson (a1)

Abstract. The creation of an autonomous region of Nunavik within the province of Quebec would constitute a new phase in the development of Canadian federalism. Although there is no existing domestic model for such a political arrangement, the system of nested federalism in the Russian Federation offers a useful comparative tool for examining the internal and external features of the emerging system of government in Nunavik, as well as the challenges of operationalizing and embedding such a system within the Canadian federal structure. This article outlines the basic principles of nested federalism and considers them in light of recent developments in the region of Nunavik, including the initialing of an “Agreement in Principle concerning the amalgamation of certain public institutions and the creation of the Nunavik Regional Government” between the regional, provincial and federal governments in August 2007. The article concludes that although the Agreement in Principle does not entrench the types of intergovernmental mechanisms and jurisdictional powers that were recommended by the 2001 Report of the Nunavik Commission and that are necessary to the proper functioning of a nested federal arrangement, the political amalgamation outlined in this document represents a significant step forward in terms of creating an institutional framework for an autonomous, nested region in Nunavik.

Résumé. La création d'une région autonome du Nunavik à l'intérieur de la province du Québec constituerait une nouvelle phase dans le développement du fédéralisme canadien. Bien qu'il n'y ait aucun modèle domestique existant d'un tel arrangement politique le système de fédéralisme “encastré” dans la Fédération Russe offre un outil comparatif utile pour examiner les caractéristiques internes et externes du système de gouvernement émergeant au Nunavik. L'exemple russe démontre aussi les défis fonctionnels liés à l'établissement d'un tel système à l'intérieur de la structure fédérale existante au Canada. Cet article développe les principes de base d'un “fédéralisme encastré” et les considère en vue des développements récents dans la région du Nunavik, incluant les négociations pour un “Entente de principe sur la fusion de certaines institutions publiques et la création du gouvernement régional du Nunavik” entre les différents gouvernements régional, provincial et fédéral en août 2007. L'article conclut que bien que l'Accord de Principe n'inclut pas les types de mécanismes intergouvernementaux et les pouvoirs juridictionnels qui étaient recommandés dans le Rapport de 2001 de la Commission de Nunavik et qui sont nécessaires au bon fonctionnement d'un arrangement fédéral “encastré,” le fusionnement politique développé dans ce document représente un pas en avant significatif dans la construction institutionnelle d'un Nunavik autonome à l'intérieur du Québec.

Corresponding author
Gary N. Wilson, Department of Political Science, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George BC, V2N 4Z9, Canada,
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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