Politics of Development

Politics of Development: Forests, Mines, and Hydro-Electric Power in Ontario, 1849-1941

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 514
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  • Book Info
    Politics of Development
    Book Description:

    The Carleton Library Series returns this classic in political economy and Canadian historical writing to print, with a new introduction by Robert Young. The Politics of Development reveals the full extent of state involvement in the exploitation of natural resources in the province of Ontario and the reciprocal impact resource development has had in shaping politics in the province. H.V. Nelles offers a revised staples interpretation, exposing the resource politics at the heart of central Canadian economic development. He explains the business history of the forestry and mining industries from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century, stressing the importance of public policy in their development. He offers a definitive interpretation of the emergence, development, and political dynamics of public ownership within the hydro-electric sector. Considered one of the seminal works on Canadian political economy The Politics of Development still has important things to say about public policy and will be of interest to historians, political scientists, economists, and those interested in environmental history.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7216-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction to the Carleton Library Edition The Politics of Development
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    This is a personal introduction, but it is serious. It’s about why you should read this book.

    I readThe Politics of Developmentsoon after it appeared in 1974. I was just starting my doctoral fieldwork, which was on how public participation in politics changes over the course of economic development as the state’s planning capacity and managerial activity increase. I’d chosen to explore these general issues in New Brunswick, on the assumption that the system there, while complex and “complete” (in the sense used by some quebecois thinkers), was nevertheless small enough to be comprehended by one hard-working researcher. As...

  4. Revisiting The Politics of Development
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  5. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xxv-xxxiv)
  6. 1 A Frontier of Monarchy
    (pp. 1-47)

    During the nineteenth century the simple laws governing Upper Canada’s natural resources underwent a wholesale transformation. It is, of course, entirely to be expected that a force as pervasive as the industrial revolution would re-order inherited practices to conform to its needs. What is notable about the process of legal reform in Ontario, however, is the extent to which the political control over economic activity that characterized the pre-industrial, imperial legislation survived to provide the foundations of twentieth-century natural resource law. Somewhat unexpectedly the provincial government emerged from an era of political and economic liberalism with a great deal of...

  7. 2 The Manufacturing Condition
    (pp. 48-107)

    The resource developers of Ontario were enthusiastic continentalists during the late nineteenth century for substantially the same reasons as the province’s farmers. The United States was their best market and the cheapest source of the manufactured goods they required to produce more efficiently. But unlike the farmers, they went further to observe that Americans also possessed the requisite capital, technology and experience to initiate the proper development of the provincial resource base. Yet the federal governments of these two countries wilfully impeded what they considered to be a natural flow of trade and investment between neighbours. Thus both the resource...

  8. 3 Promoting New Ontario
    (pp. 108-153)

    New Ontario more than lived up to its abundant promise during the first decades of the twentieth century. As had been predicted, hydro-electric plants and pulp mills appeared along the northern rivers; iron mines, smelters and steel mills were opened; and the miners of the province, in a wild, exhilarating succession of rushes, uncovered a series of fabulous gold and silver bonanzas. Nor could the bare figures of capital invested, new plant capacity, miles of railroad added annually and population increase, do justice to the story. So remarkable were these developments in New Ontario that they could not be scaled...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. 4 Claiming the “People’s Share”
    (pp. 154-181)

    Promotion was by no means the only function of government. Other groups and other values required satisfaction besides those of business. Once development had been stimulated, the question of how the state would use its proprietary and statutory authority to regulate that process in the public interest inevitably arose. But what was the public interest? Who defined it? How and to what extent would it be asserted? Those, of course, were vexing political questions.

    The problem of framing and administering any laws for such a vast area, especially under conditions of rapidly changing technology and industrial organization, proved a difficult...

  11. 5 Conserving the Forest
    (pp. 182-214)

    The problem with the forests was not that the public drew too little revenue from their exploitation, but rather too much. Various governments, it began to appear, had sold timber to pay their bills. The depredations of loggers, settlers and fire had at length raised serious concern about the permanence of the public forest and, accordingly, the employment and revenues dependent upon it. Could the forest resources of the crown be saved? The conservation movement that arose in response to the crisis believed so, if the state administered its property properly. The regulations required to save the forests were more...

  12. 6 Hydro As Myth
    (pp. 215-255)

    When T. C. Keefer, professional engineer and transportation philosopher, delivered the last presidential address of the nineteenth century to the Royal Society of Canada, it might have been expected that he would reflect back upon the industrial progress he had spent the better part of a full life promoting.¹ Instead, he chose to look forward to yet another industrial revolution which, he predicted, lay just ahead in the dawning century. Surveying the advances in the science of electrical generation and transmission that had taken place during the eighties and nineties, Keefer foresaw that hydro-electricity would soon provide a cheaper, more...

  13. 7 Power Politics
    (pp. 256-306)

    The Conservatives had acquired an inclination towards public ownership during their long years in opposition but had not developed that tendency into a detailed program. In 1902, for example, the party had introduced a resolution calling for the cessation of hydro-electric exports to the United States and public ownership of the Niagara generating stations. This surprise policy, summarized by Beattie Nesbitt as “the Government at the switch and not the corporations,” had been introduced into the debate on the speech from the throne in the hope of raising a groundswell of popular support just before an election when the Liberals...

  14. 8 Joining the New Empire
    (pp. 307-347)

    The rise of the new staple industries during the early decades of the twentieth century permanently reshaped the contours of the Canadian economy. The insatiable appetite of America’s cities for paper and its industries for non-ferrous metals ultimately reared enormous mills and mines in the northern forests of central Canada, and huge power projects that gave them life in its rivers. A new axis of continental integration, symbolized by the ownership, technique and market orientation of the new staple industries, cut across the east-west lines of national consolidation laid down by the wheat economy. This almost exclusively North American movement...

  15. 9 War and the Canadian Quandary
    (pp. 348-381)

    The strain of World War I eventually brought the latent conflicts within the continental resource economy to a climax. Munitions consumed vast quantities of metal and electricity and the reports of their explosion at the front blackened millions of miles of newsprint in the North American cities. In response to wartime demand Ontario nickel and newsprint production doubled and the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission load tripled. By 1919 the value of Canadian pulp and paper exports had reached almost $100 million, enough to supply 30 per cent of the U.S. market. The war also helped New York displace London as...

  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  17. 10 Responsible Government Revisited
    (pp. 382-426)

    Preceding chapters have examined the origins and some of the dimensions of political authority in the natural resource economy. Taking state ownership of resources in the nineteenth century as a point of departure, we observed the gradual modification of that principle during the first decades of this century into three methods and degrees of state intervention. The provincial government controlled the development of natural resources either by direct management, property right, or statute. Waterpower regulation grew to include the distribution of hydro-electricity and ultimately public ownership of the industry. The principle of crown ownership of the forest survived intact and...

  18. 11 Politics as Business
    (pp. 427-488)

    Continuous association with the problems and leading personalities of business posed a second challenge to the “responsibility” of government. Frequent discussions between businessmen and politicians necessarily exalted business opinions and discounted the views and claims of other groups within society. It is not surprising that this was the case with problems of immediate concern to industrialists such as the taxation of mining, the proration of newsprint production, and Hydro acquisitions. But it was equally true that the Ontario government’s attitude towards broader social and political issues, such as unemployment, industrial unionism, federalism and public finances closely approximated business views on...

  19. 12 The Image of the State
    (pp. 489-495)

    As Ontario entered the twentieth century the old pre-industrial concept of crown ownership of natural resources was very much alive. Because the lumbermen had discovered a useful ally in the state, and because the forests rented to the lumbermen became a production source of revenue, the statist philosophy underlying the Crown Timber Act came to be applied in the regulation of waterpowers and mines as well. Thus, on the eve of intensive development, the province of Ontario exercised proprietary control over its three most important natural resources. The survival of this authority was, as we have seen, no accident, but...

  20. A Note on Sources
    (pp. 496-498)
  21. Index
    (pp. 499-514)