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City Politics, Canada

City Politics, Canada

James Lightbody
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 576
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  • Book Info
    City Politics, Canada
    Book Description:

    "City Politics, Canadawill both irritate and please, but it should be read-it raises all the important questions about urban governance in Canada." - Caroline Andrew, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0203-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-10)
  3. list of abbreviations
    (pp. 11-12)
  4. preface
    (pp. 13-16)
    James Lightbody
  5. introductory note
    (pp. 17-20)

    The best place to start any examination of city politics in Canada is to understand that this country is a federal political community. This means that political authority is divided between a central government and ten provinces. All federal states must have a written constitution that clearly specifies what each level of authority may do. Canada’s Constitution is found in two British statutes, the British North America Act (1867) and the Constitution Act (1982).

    Both documents operate under the assumption that Canada is to be both a parliamentary democracy in the Westminster (UK) tradition and a federal political system. This...

  6. Part I: An Introduction to Canadian Metropolitan Politics

    • one The study of urban politics
      (pp. 23-62)

      At one and the same time, Canadians arc citizens of the federal union, of their individual province, of their specific city-region, and of their own distinct neighbourhood community. To each is owed a particular allegiance which varies in intensity and commitment over time and which is often dependent upon whatever political issue is at stake. Political scientist Norton Long once reminded his readers that Thomas Jefferson viewed the hierarchy of citizen loyalties in the United States as going from town, to state, to the federal government, and yet that “Today it is clearly the reverse” (1968: 260-61). An Environics poll...

    • two The policy-making system of the Canadian city
      (pp. 63-92)

      The purpose of this chapter is to define basic concepts, processes, and structures in public policy-making and to outline a simple model of how the components work together. The apparently complex bones of state institutions are bound by the sinews of personal interaction into a body politic in which real opportunities may exist for citizens to have a say in the ongoing political process. The model suggests various practical ways in which these opportunities may be exploited; we will consider later how this happens through political parties (Chapter 6), interest groups (Chapter 7), and social movements (Chapter 8), or by...

    • three Urban political culture and the limits to political choice
      (pp. 93-134)

      While the local evening news and daily papers happily reveal fractious personality differences between public figures, the rich pattern of city politics within which these take place is, in reality, established by continuing broad currents and underlying themes. This basic context is called political culture. In urban areas, its study reveals the environment in which all activities leading to public policy decisions are undertaken. The concept is normally used by social scientists to compare the relationship of citizens to authority in larger political units like national states or important regional governing arrangements. If it is agreed, however, that cities fall...

    • four The development of locally accountable organizations
      (pp. 135-174)

      Canadian municipal administration is more directly concerned with tangible service provision to citizens than are other levels of the state. The historic evolution of relatively autonomous authority and immediate local accountability has been grounded by this basic distinction. Even more so than other governing levels in Canada, modern municipal practices are highly conditioned by their past carried forward. In this chapter, we will explore the basics of today’s local institutions in this general light.

      The purposes here are two-fold. The first is to pull together the glimpses of the development of municipal institutions provided in previous chapters into a concise...

  7. Part II: The Politics of City Governing

    • five Elections and voters
      (pp. 177-222)

      If the representative process so critical to modern liberal democracy is to be taken seriously by citizens, then the conduct of elections must not only be fair but also appear to be equitable. For participation to be thought meaningful, it must also be seen to exert some reasonable control over those in political authority by tempering behaviours between votes. Even were Canadians 35 million Aristotles, if their participation was limited only to choosing one representative in one small territory every three or four years, their wisdom would be seriously circumscribed. The three critical questions to be explored in this chapter...

    • six Political parties and theories of local non-partisanship
      (pp. 223-262)

      Unlike other local governing systems in the world, most Canadian cities are not governed by systemic party operations. In this chapter we consider the consequences of both anti-partyism and party-like behaviour, with an eye to the role of each in augmenting the direct accountability of locally elected officials. This chapter does not provide a comprehensive history of formal political party involvement in Canadian city politics. It is, instead, an argument, with appropriate examples, for more transparency in party activities. It concludes that greater accountability for public policy would ensue if parties locally were more coherent and more continuously active.


    • seven Interests and lobbying at City Hall
      (pp. 263-302)

      Over a decade ago, Linda Trimble noted that, “The fact that cityelectionsare seen as less important does not necessarily mean that city politics are so seen” (1995: 104; emphasis in original). The continuing significance of actors in non-official centres of power to policy decisions and effective outcomes merits specific mention. This chapter and the next are about city-region policy communities, their role in public policy innovation, and their potential in enforcing accountability in representative democratic institutions.

      Pressure groups, lobbyists, and special interests have traditionally constituted one of the more interesting yet uncertain areas of inquiry in political science....

    • eight Social movements, leadership, and the policy agenda
      (pp. 303-338)

      In this chapter we will expand the discussion of interest groups and lobbying to consider important hypothetical and actual roles of new citizen social movements in the twenty-first century. Then, we will consider what might be expected by way of needed changes in traditional leadership patterns. We will conclude with a note on the work of the mass media in cities and with a statement on the fundamental issue of conflict of interest.

      In a well-known study,Bowling Alone,Robert Putnam (2000) observes a collapse in the memberships of traditional associations in the United States. Even as hierarchical organizations in...

  8. Part III: Intergovernmental Issues and Metropolitan Governing

    • nine Relations among governments
      (pp. 341-376)

      Canadian municipal government in the twentieth-first century is still influenced by nineteenth-century practice and law. Not only is the head of city council formally addressed by the Victorian “Your Worship,” but the powers assigned by almost all provincial statutes to that role are equally archaic. From the Municipal Corporations (Baldwin) Act of 1849 to the present, Canadian municipal councils have not been much trusted by central governments.

      In calling for a “good system of municipal institutions” as a matter of vital importance, Lord Durham in his 1839 Report wrote that “Instead of confiding the whole collection and distribution of all...

    • ten Standing issues in regional governing
      (pp. 377-404)

      The next four chapters focus on horizontal intergovernmental relations in Canada’s city-regions or, to put it another way, the interactions among types of governments found on a more or less similar plane of formal and functional authority within a specifically defined geographic area. The growing complexities of the transactions among autonomous governing instruments (municipalities, school districts, hospital boards, special districts), in combination with their occasional spectacular failure to establish effective public policies for the region within which they must coexist, has required all four major provinces to intercede with regional policy-implementing devices over the past 50 years. Subsequent incremental tinkering...

    • eleven Theoretical questions about metropolitan institutions
      (pp. 405-428)

      Despite the distinctive characteristics that render them superficially unique, the larger Canadian CMAs have pretty much developed within a somewhat similar configuration. Typically, the city-region is focused on a well-established core city which is itself anchored in its central business district. Each major Canadian CMA (except Regina) owes its place adjacent to a significant body of water (harbour, lake, navigable river) to an historic need to locate alongside established trading routes. Over time, the central city found itself ringed by both dormitory and industrial satellite suburbs, some mixed and some very specialized to one or the other purpose. Indeed, in...

    • twelve Organizing city governments in the metropolis
      (pp. 429-470)

      It is all well and good to be able to diagnose the problems of the metropolis and to describe them with some measure of accuracy. It is quite another matter, and more difficult, to prescribe a set of realistic solutions. The hardest task lies in the application of any prescription for change. In this chapter it is time to examine the governing alternatives that have been employed and to assess their relative successes. The central policy issue is this: when the councils of the multiple municipalities of the polycentric city-region appear disinclined to coalesce as a single unit, what are...

    • thirteen The politics of local government reform
      (pp. 471-506)

      This chapter will consider how it is that, virtually unexpectedly, a general model for the rapid modification of city-region government in Canada came to exist, especially since similar initiatives in the United States have conspicuously failed. The specific public policy approach to the amalgamations ot the municipal governments of Toronto (effective in January 1998) and Montreal (in 2001) and to other recent provincially initiated adaptations like Ottawa and Hamilton reveals a generally similar, and uniquely Canadian, pattern for changing the municipal institutions with responsibility for governing in the metropolis. At the same time, the sweeping, provincially imposed municipal consolidations came...

  9. Part IV: Canadian Metropolitan Centres in a World Context

    • fourteen The impact of world practices on Canadian metropolitan cities
      (pp. 509-544)

      There are over 300 city-regions with populations in excess of one million in the world today—six of these are in Canada—and at least 20 with 10 million people. What is interesting to many students of local politics is the degree to which a city-region political culture has become a world commonality even as each city-region remains vulnerable, on its own, to the ebb and flow of global markets, capital shifts, and labour force choices. The divergence in the commonality is one of degree, often expressed through institutions and political practices. Yet, these days, globalization and urbanization are inextricably...

  10. glossary
    (pp. 545-552)
  11. references
    (pp. 553-566)
  12. Index of names
    (pp. 567-569)
  13. Index of subjects
    (pp. 569-576)