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Defying Conventional Wisdom

Defying Conventional Wisdom: Political Movements and Popular Contention Against North American Free Trade

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  • Book Info
    Defying Conventional Wisdom
    Book Description:

    The first major study on the origins, strategies, and activities of movements and coalitions in opposition to free trade that arose in Canada and spread across North America - it captures an important developmental period in Canadian political life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7378-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)
  7. 1 Studying Movements Politically
    (pp. 9-20)

    The globalization of the world’s economy has sparked a great deal of unrest, protest, and mobilization of political movements. Movements protesting economic integration have arisen to contest the Maastricht Treaty on European Union in France, Denmark, and Norway, while popular opposition to this project has manifested itself in Great Britain and Sweden as well. The push for continental economic integration in North America via the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement provoked popular-sector coalition building in both countries. In addition, the uprising of indigenous people in Chiapas, Mexico, had a similar, if less well analysed, link to the disruptions wrought by the...

  8. 2 The Origins of a Movement
    (pp. 21-46)

    The period between the massive victory of the Progressive Conservative Party in the September 1984 Canadian federal election and the initiation of formal comprehensive free trade negotiations between Canada and the United States in December 1985 represented a watershed in Canadian political history. It marked the emergence of anti-free trade coalitions and in particular the consolidation of organizations in the anti-free trade movement. Free trade emerged as the dominant policy item on the Progressive Conservatives Party’s agenda, developing from one of several policy options to an issue of paramount importance. Significantly, it was during this period that the structures of...

  9. 3 The Politics of Coalition Building
    (pp. 47-73)

    Between the spring of 1986 and the fall of 1987 anti-free trade groups coalesced into a broad, nation-wide network and gained collective control over the resources needed to sustain a protest movement. Two developments relevant to the concepts of the political-process argument shaped this period of movement building. First, anti-free trade groups employed a strategy of coalition building to bind groups of many different colours and interests under the broad umbrella of a network known as the Pro-Canada Network. Second, expanding political opportunities, sparked especially by deadlocks in the negotiations for a free trade accord, critically delayed the issue in...

  10. 4 The Parliamentary Protest Campaign
    (pp. 74-92)

    The previous chapters have shown that a series of shifts and destabilizations in the Canadian political environment from 1981 to the fall of 1987 facilitated the rise of the anti-free trade movement by shaping both the political opportunities for successful collective action and the organizational capacity to exploit those opportunities. At various stages the political instability induced long-term favourable changes in the resources and organization of the anti-free trade group, in political opportunities, and in the consciousness of participants, all of which contributed to the continued expansion of the movement.

    This chapter highlights the continuing influence of these variables in...

  11. 5 The Constraints of Electoral Politics
    (pp. 93-116)

    Theorists of social movements have been quick to explain the generation of insurgency but they have had less to say about the factors behind the decline and demobilization of movements.¹ Scholars working in the political-process mould have responded to this weakness in the literature by developing a holistic model of the emergence, mobilization, and decline of movements. This chapter continues in this direction by providing an account of the decline and fracturing of the anti-free trade movement during the height of the 1988 federal election campaign.

    Initially, favourable political opportunities continued to sustain the movement during the early part of...

  12. 6 NAFTA and the Structuring of Domestic and Transnational Protest
    (pp. 117-134)

    In the aftermath of the 1988 free trade election, the ability of activists to sustain popular mobilizations and protests came under severe strain. The collective will persisted: individuals and groups affiliated with the broad anti-FTA mobilization decided soon after the election to remain committed to a network-structured and coalition-building style of politics as a means of countering both continental free trade and the neo-conservative agenda of the Mulroney government. The core organizations and coalitions remained; aside from a retooling of their image and strategy, both the PCN and the COC remained viable and active in the popular contestations that were...

  13. 7 From National Sovereignty towards Popular Sovereignty?
    (pp. 135-142)

    Within the context of the North American continental economy, a subtle shift has been taking place in the protest strategies and tactics adopted by various popular-sector groups across Canada. Previously rooted primarily in state-centred campaigns that mobilized around the concepts of the ‘nation’ and ‘national sovereignty,’ increasingly groups have begun to mount broader collective campaigns that transcend both national sovereignty and national borders to focus on transnational democracy and popular sovereignty. The broad impetus behind this evolving shift in strategy and focus is the globalization of the world’s economy. Globalization, by constraining the powers and capacities of the state to...

  14. 8 Political and Theoretical Implications
    (pp. 143-150)

    As presented in this book, the popular contention that was directed against continental free trade through coalition building, mobilization, and protest challenged long-standing expectations regarding Canadian politics. Rather than defer to the neo-conservative and continentalist policies of the Progressive Conservative government and of the Liberal government that followed it, Canadians from all walks of life defied the expectations of the elite and mobilized into various domestic and transnational coalitions and networks. The development of such wide-scale, national, inter-sectoral coalitions defied historical precedents for popular-sector groups to remain split along sectoral lines. The intervention by these coalitions in parliamentary debates and...

  15. Appendix: Methods
    (pp. 151-152)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 153-184)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 185-198)
  18. Index
    (pp. 199-209)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 210-210)