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Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Change

Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Change: A Comparative Analysis

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Change
    Book Description:

    In search of answers,Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Changeanalyses ten landmark inquiries ranging across a variety of political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and legal issues.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6886-7
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Patrice Dutil

    Commissions of inquiry have been key features of the Canadian style of governance and have long attracted questions and comments. To this, with the volume you are holding, the IPAC Series in Public Management and Governance proudly adds a comparative treatment that pointedly places these enterprises in the policymaking process. I am doubly proud in that the editors are friends and colleagues in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University.

    These commissions have proved useful over time in many different instances. In the immediate, they often served to bail governments out of policy paralysis, or offered an...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Tables, Figures, and Chapter Appendices
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. 1 Why Study Commissions of Inquiry?
    (pp. 3-19)

    Commissions of inquiry (COIs) are a subject of great interest, not only to poets, but to political scientists, legal scholars, historians, social and economic policy scholars, public servants, and politicians. Whether they realize it or not, even Canadian citizens have an abiding stake in these unique and fascinating instruments of governance. This book has assembled some of Canada's leading scholars with expertise covering a wide range of COIs across a number of social, economic, legal, environmental, and other policy areas of concern to Canadians to provide a comparative analysis and deeper understanding of the multifaceted processes by which policy change...

  7. 2 Theories of Policy Change and a Four-Part Theoretical Framework for Comparative Analysis
    (pp. 20-48)

    This chapter sets out the theoretical framework, methodology, and rationale for comparing the various commissions of inquiry (COI) as cases in this analysis. The first section outlines the broad theories of policy change that have import for this study. The second section highlights why COIs are excellent cases with which to examine policy change. The third section outlines the theoretical framework of ideas, institutions, actors, and relations designed to explain the degree of policy change in each case. The fourth section outlines the comparative case method that flows from the theoretical and analytical framework, the cases selected for the analysis,...

  8. 3 Structuring Canadaʹs National Policy Debate: The Royal Commission on Canadaʹs Economic Prospects
    (pp. 49-69)

    The Royal Commission on Canadaʹs Economic Prospects (RCCEP) is an often overlooked policy inquiry. Conducted in the comparatively quiet decade of the 1950s, it falls in the shadow of the two era-defining commissions that bookend its work – the 1930s Royal Commission on Dominion Provincial Relations (Rowell-Sirois Commission) that led Canada into the Keynesian age, and the 1980s Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada (Macdonald Commission, discussed in chapter 6) that ushered in neoliberalism. Not associated with any such political realignments, or even a memorable policy innovation, the RCCEP has received only passing attention from...

  9. 4 Politics and Promise: A Feminist-Institutionalist Analysis of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
    (pp. 70-87)

    Finding the right institutional design for progressive policy change has been vexing for advocates who seek the eradication of womenʹs inequalities. Feminists have traversed Westminster customs, partisan aspirations, and bureaucratic practices under a political rationality that has stubbornly viewed women as primary caregivers, secondary wage-earners, or household domestics. Yet there have been moments in Canadian history when a constellation of factors come together that instigates policy learning and dramatically shifts womenʹs circumstances. One such event was the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (RCSW) whose effect on policy change, like that of the Macdonald Commission, the Royal Commission on...

  10. 5 The Lasting Impact of the Berger Inquiry into the Construction of a Pipeline in the Mackenzie Valley
    (pp. 88-112)

    Indigenous people have achieved a peaceful revolution in northern Canada, changing the political map of the country and permanently adjusting the political balance of power in the North. In a generation, northern Indigenous people moved from marginalization to the centre of political life.¹ The 1974–7 Inquiry into the Construction of a Pipeline in the Mackenzie Valley led by Thomas Berger marked an important moment in this broad political transformation, which was both institutional and attitudinal.

    The Berger Inquiry drew very wide and deep participation in northern Canada, probably the first (but by no means the last) time that most...

  11. 6 Of Leaps of Faith and Policy Change: The Macdonald Royal Commission
    (pp. 113-129)

    Every once in awhile, the long, slow process of incremental change in public policy gives way to a relatively sudden ʺtransformative moment.ʺ These epochal changes in policy direction are rare in the real world and little understood in policy literature. Institutionalist theory, whether historical, sociological, or rational choice, has long been charged with being unable to account effectively for policy change (Lecours 2005) and seems to be better at explaining why change doesnottake place. This study looks at one such change and the policy instrument that facilitated it and uses the theoretical framework of ideas, institutions, actors, and...

  12. 7 The Framing of Scientific Governance in Canada: Policy Change and the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies
    (pp. 130-153)

    The birth of the first child conceived through the technology of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1976 was a formative event in the field of biomedicine and reproductive technologies. As a medical breakthrough, this event not only represented a significant advancement in the treatment of infertility but it also made it possible for scientists to carry out human embryonic stem (hES) cell research. In many ways, this event and other technological and scientific advancements that followed would challenge our understanding of prevailing societal practices and institutions, such as parenthood, motherhood, reproduction, and the family. Moreover, it would alter the moral,...

  13. 8 The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: An Exercise in Policy Education
    (pp. 154-171)

    The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was a commission of inquiry that functioned at two levels. At one level it operated as an inquiry into what had gone wrong in an important area of public policy – relations with Aboriginal peoples – and what new policies could be put forward to improve the situation. But RCAP had a deeper, existential dimension that went beyond policy analysis and recommendations to rethinking the very nature of the country. For many Canadians who identify as Aboriginal, perhaps for most of them, their belonging to the Canadian state was problematic. It is that...

  14. 9 Manufacturing Civil Society? How the Krever Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada Shaped Collective Action and Policy Change
    (pp. 172-192)

    The Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada has been held up as a model for how public inquiries can effect meaningful policy change. Indeed, the inquiry has been largely credited with transforming the blood system, divesting the Canadian Red Cross Services of much of its authority to collect and distribute blood and blood products. Moreover, some of its key policy recommendations – that the idea of the precautionary principle should guide decision-making in areas of health-related risk and that all victims of tainted blood be compensated, regardless of when they were infected – were followed, albeit, in...

  15. 10 The Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada: Laying the Groundwork or a Missed Opportunity for Policy Change?
    (pp. 193-213)

    Since ʺmedicareʺ was instituted in the mid-1960s to cover hospital and physician services to all Canadians, health care has been an important public finance issue, but perhaps never more so, post-inception, than in the years leading up to the 2002 Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, known as the Romanow Commission after its chair, former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow. The 1990s had ushered in an era of debt and deficit-reduction concerns for all governments, as well as a New Public Management (NPM) administrative focus on insufficient financial accountability and public participation in Pan-Canadian policies and programs....

  16. 11 The Walkerton Inquiry and Policy Change
    (pp. 214-243)

    Walkerton, Ontario, like many small communities in Canada, is an agricultural town located in close proximity to a river and reliant on groundwater as a source of drinking water. In mid-May 2000 it rained heavily in Walkerton. Runoff from this rainfall made its way across the land, into surface and groundwater and ultimately into wells that supplied the townʹs drinking water, which became contaminated with deadly bacteria, primarilyEscherichia coli. Some 7 people died, 65 were hospitalized, 27 developed a serious and potentially fatal kidney ailment, and more than 2,300 in a town of 4,800 residents became ill (Hrudey et...

  17. 12 The Goudge Inquiry: Anatomy of Success for an Inquiry to Change Policy?
    (pp. 244-260)

    This volume explores policy change resulting from public inquiries. Often, it will be ambiguous whether policy change has occurred, and murkier still whether that change can be causally connected to the calling, holding, or outcome of a public inquiry. In the case of the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario (the ʺGoudge Inquiryʺ), which was established by the Government of Ontario under the Public Inquiries Act on 25 April 2007 and submitted its final report in the fall of 2008, with Stephen T. Goudge of the Ontario Court of Appeal serving as commissioner, I suggest there is no ambiguity....

  18. 13 Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Change: A Comparative Analysis
    (pp. 261-302)

    Speaking of several broad policy advisory inquiries, Bradford concludes, ʺIndeed, the intellectual achievements of Canadaʹs royal commissions on everything have been impressive. But the achievement is more than just intellectual; in writing histories for their times, these commissions became authors of significant policy changeʺ (Bradford 1999/2000, 141). Similarly, Ratushny concludes that particular inquiries have played a major role in policy change throughout Canadian history (Ratushny 2009).This volume has tried to gain a deeper and richer understanding of some of the key features of COIs that determine the degree of policy change that flows from them.

    Comparing across COIs highlights the...

  19. References
    (pp. 303-332)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 333-334)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-336)