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Transforming Provincial Politics

Transforming Provincial Politics: The Political Economy of Canada's Provinces and Territories in the Neoliberal Era

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Provincial Politics
    Book Description:

    Over the past thirty-five years, Canada's provinces and territories have undergone significant political changes. Abandoning mid-century Keynesian policies, governments of all political persuasions have turned to deregulation, tax reduction, and government downsizing as policy solutions for a wide range of social and economic issues.Transforming Provincial Politicsis the first province-by-province analysis of politics and political economy in more than a decade, and the first to directly examine the turn to neoliberal policies at the provincial and territorial level.

    Featuring chapters written by experts in the politics of each province and territory,Transforming Provincial Politicsexamines how neoliberal policies have affected politics in each jurisdiction. A comprehensive and accessible analysis of the issues involved, this collection will be welcomed by scholars, instructors, and anyone interested in the state of provincial politics today.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9592-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction: Transforming Provincial Politics: The Political Economy of Canada’s Provinces and Territories in a Neoliberal Era
    (pp. 3-18)

    Over the past thirty-five years, politics in Canada’s provinces and territories has undergone significant transformations. Quite simply, the provincial and territorial states of 2014 bear little resemblance to their 1970s counterparts. Under the auspices of neoliberal globalization, regional power blocs have been formed and reformed in such a way that natural resource extraction is taking on both national and global importance. Traditionally, Canadian political economists argued that Canada’s economic underdevelopment derived, in part, from an overreliance on commodity extraction.¹ Today, however, governments and multinational corporations promote natural resource extraction as a driver of Canadian competitiveness abroad. The economic power of...

  5. Part One: Resistance and Neoliberal Restructuring in Atlantic Canada

    • 1 Newfoundland and Labrador, 1979–2011: Contradiction and Continuity in a Neoliberal Era
      (pp. 21-48)

      Neoliberalism has been one of the most prominent ideological responses to the economic and social crises associated with globalization since the late 1970s. Neoliberals have emphasized the importance of communities, regions, or nation states becoming more competitive in the global economy, extolling the free market, and advocating the privatization of government services, wide-ranging deregulation, and the “shrinking and hollowing out of the state in terms of industrial and welfare policies.”¹ Canadian federal neoliberal policies have focused on free trade, retrenchment in fiscal and monetary policies, privatization, and the downloading of costs for many social programs onto the provinces. In Atlantic...

    • 2 Politics on Prince Edward Island: Plus ça change …
      (pp. 49-76)

      The tiny province of Prince Edward Island (PEI), population 144,000, has long been known for its brownish “spuds,” sandy beaches, fabled story of Anne of Green Gables, and yes, electoral scandals. Given its traditional, largely rural-based and small-cconservative political landscape, the province has lagged behind other provincial jurisdictions in Canada in political and socio-economic development.¹ And it goes without saying that politics on PEI is intensely personal and unique – where sitting provincial MLAs often know many of their constituents on a first-name basis, know how their parents and grandparents customarily voted, and where ridings can be won or...

    • 3 Nova Scotia: Fiscal Crisis and Party System Transition
      (pp. 77-109)

      This chapter explores the Nova Scotia provincial experience in the neoliberal era. It is a story of new political contradictions playing out against a backdrop of prior social arrangements. Not surprisingly, a small provincial society in the Maritimes numbering less than a million people encountered neoliberalism in its own distinct way, and the responses have been similarly singular. For one thing, capitalism in Nova Scotia has historically been markedly uneven and its component parts disconnected. A heavy-industry enclave at Sydney was structurally separate from the service sector metropole of Halifax-Dartmouth and the petty-bourgeois social relations of the small towns and...

    • 4 The Political Economy of New Brunswick: Selling New Brunswick Power
      (pp. 110-134)

      For most of its history within the Canadian federation, New Brunswick has borne the weight of its status as a “have-not” province. This has not been a weight borne lightly, as New Brunswick has continually struggled to find the magic formula to reverse its economic fortunes. However, such a formula has eluded a succession of New Brunswick governments, regardless of whether they have been Liberal or Conservative (and they have only ever been Liberal or Conservative). Yet surely here lies the problem: New Brunswick governments have repeatedly looked for a single solution, be it a large capital project exploiting a...

  6. Part Two: Neoliberalism and the Decline of Central Canada

    • 5 Quebec Nationalism and Quebec Politics, from Left to Right
      (pp. 137-161)

      Quebec politics is often understood in terms of the relationship of Quebec to Canada. Within that dynamic, there is an ongoing competition between the autonomist nationalism of the Quebec Liberal Party, which believes Canadian federalism can be reformed in depth to become consistent with Quebecers’ prime loyalty to Quebec, and the sovereigntist nationalism of the Parti Québécois (PQ), which argues that Quebec needs to take on the main accoutrements of nation-state sovereignty if it is to flourish fully. But looking at Quebec politics as a battle of the “federalists” and the “sovereigntists” reduces it to a single dimension of conflict...

    • 6 The Transformation of Ontario Politics: The Long Ascent of Neoliberalism
      (pp. 162-192)

      Ontario’s place within Canada has been historically defined by its dominance within the pan-Canadian political economy. An important component of this power has been the strength of Ontario’s ruling classes, many of whom pushed for and directly benefited from national policies designed to strengthen the province’s commercial empire from the St Lawrence Seaway westward to the Pacific Ocean.¹ In the post–Second World War period, the province’s high levels of industrialization and its near monopoly of the commanding heights of the service economy reinforced Ontario’s political and economic power. Over four uninterrupted decades, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario ruled...

  7. Part Three: Neoliberalism and the “New West”

    • 7 The Manitoba NDP and the Politics of Inoculation: Sustaining Electoral Success through the Third Way
      (pp. 195-225)

      Manitoba is often overlooked in the study of Canadian provincial politics. Perceived as a land of bitter cold, floods, and mosquitoes, its location in the geographic centre of the country has been extended to a perception of Manitoba politics as bland, centrist, and pragmatic. Indeed, this perception of Manitoba as dominated by a “middle of the road” politics and political culture was the organizing theme of a recent volume of essays on the province.² Just as the stereotypes of Manitoba’s climate and geography are both accurate and exaggerated, this characterization of Manitoba politics also requires a corrective. Certainly, it is...

    • 8 Saskatchewan: From Cradle of Social Democracy to Neoliberalism’s Sandbox
      (pp. 226-254)

      The uneven and contested rise of neoliberalism has been a global and pan-Canadian phenomenon. Yet as the editors demonstrate in their introduction to this volume, neoliberalism has everywhere been a product of particular “local” social relations, structural changes, and processes of political conflict, mobilization, and (re)alignment. In the case of Saskatchewan, coming to terms with the triumph of neoliberalism requires an attempt to understand the factors that (1) created and then eroded the social basis for a particular form of post-war social democracy; (2) provided conditions for the (mixed) successes of a series of conservative rollback policies that began in...

    • 9 The Politics of Alberta’s One-Party State
      (pp. 255-283)

      Stereotypes abound in popular imaginings of politics in Alberta. Having elected Progressive Conservative (PC) governments in every election since 1971, and gained a reputation for leading the charge in Canada’s neoliberal revolution during the 1990s, the province is now identified as Canada’s most conservative. Commentators regularly portray Alberta as having a homogeneously conservative political culture that smothers progressive political dissent. According to theGlobe and Mail’s national affairs columnist, Jeffrey Simpson, “Alberta has a weird political culture … All the currents of dissent happen within the conservative world.”²

      One popular depiction of the character of Alberta politics labels the province...

    • 10 British Columbia: Right-Wing Coalition Politics and Neoliberalism
      (pp. 284-312)

      British Columbia was arguably the first province in Canada to experiment with neoliberal reforms. It was the province’s pioneering “restraint” program of 1983, introduced by the just re-elected Social Credit government, where all the familiar themes of neoliberal rhetoric were first paraded before Canadians: austerity, public-sector wage restraint, program cuts, balanced budgets, privatization, deregulation, and attacks on unionized workers. At the time, Stan Persky argued it was “the most sweeping and ideologically extreme program to be visited upon a North American jurisdiction.”¹ Philip Resnick claimed that under “restraint” the “provincial government committed itself to a program of rollback in government...

  8. Part Four: New Opportunities and Old Problems:: The North

    • 11 Managing the Moraine: Political Economy and Political Culture Approaches to Assessing the Success of Nunavut
      (pp. 315-346)

      The creation of Nunavut has been described as a bold, innovative step towards improving Aboriginal peoples’ lives, empowering them by establishing a governance system that they control and that serves their interests. How might one evaluate whether things are going well or poorly in a new political jurisdiction such as Nunavut? For political scientists, this might mean examining levels of political engagement, the government’s ability to balance its books, its effectiveness in delivering programs and services, the openness and fairness of the policy process (or the people’s belief that it is open and fair), and economic indicators such as unemployment...

    • 12 The Northwest Territories: A New Day?
      (pp. 347-366)

      The question of devolution (the transfer of power and control over land, resources, and water from Ottawa to the territorial government) in the Northwest Territories (NWT) has a long history. After a century of petitions and eleven years of negotiations, in January 2011, the federal government and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) announced that a deal (agreement-in-principle or AIP) had been achieved. Members of the territorial legislature ratified the agreement on 5 June 2013 (only Michael Nadli, the MLA for the Dehcho region, voted against the agreement). Premier Bob McLeod, minister of Aboriginal affairs and northern development Bernard...

    • 13 The Yukon: A New Era of First Nations Governance and Intergovernmental Relations
      (pp. 367-383)

      The politics of the northern territories is among the most politically dynamic and exciting anywhere in the country. Nowhere does this statement carry greater resonance than in the Yukon. When the territory settled the bulk of land claims in 1995, Kirk Cameron and Graham White reported, “Governance in the Yukon had entered a new era and the next challenge would be to work out the interplay of self-government and public government in the context of uncertain federal financial support.”³ Indeed, in contrast to previous speculation that the Yukon public government would experience significant erosion or that Aboriginal self-government would prove...

  9. Epilogue: Mapping the Neoliberal Transformation in Canada’s Provinces and Territories
    (pp. 384-396)

    This survey of thirteen rather distinct sub-national states that compose the Canadian federation reveals how complex the emergence and implementation of “neoliberalism in one country” can be. The centrality of region in Canadian politics is well established and is further affirmed by the accounts of neoliberal restructuring presented here. While each of the provinces and territories shares certain institutional similarities derivative from the Westminster parliamentary tradition and are allocated the same administrative and policy responsibilities by the constitution, each is also distinctive. The history of formative political events, class structure and relations, demography, and the economic structure of each jurisdiction...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 397-430)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 431-434)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 435-437)