Shakeel Dilbar- 211341815- Reading Commentary on Walkerton Reading by Scott Prudham
Scott Prudham examines the Walkerton incident as an important example of a normal accident
of neoliberalism; one that can be expected from neoliberal environmental regulatory reforms
arising from systematic irresponsibility in environmental governance.
The incident that occurred in Walkerton in May 2000, affected thousands of residents and led
directly to the death of seven people as a result of drinking contaminated “government treated
potable” water which fell under the auspices of the Walkerton municipality. The water contained
Escherichia coli and Campylobacter jejuni bacteria which were implicated in the most severe
cases and in all of the deaths. A year after public enquires resulted in these findings; certain
former staff members of the Walkerton public utility was made the “scape goats” as the Ontario
Premier Mike Harris squarely pointed the blame at the staff and charges short of criminal
negligence while in office were laid indictably.
The Walkerton incident served as a case study that uncovered how neoliberalism was
constituted by environmental governance reform and conversely how environmental
governance was reconfigured of the emergent mode of social regulation. This simply meant that
a sinister symbiotic relationship exists between environmental framework reforms and how
neoliberals approach the environment with respect to environmental degradation risks. Other
factors such as rise in public salience in the aftermath of the tragedy raised the awareness of
the Canadian population to the neoliberal agenda that comprised the majority in the Legislature
and Senate of Canada.
The Canadian government in its disregard for the consequences that anthropogenic activities
that drive the economy have on the environment. There exists hostility toward any r