Shakeel Dilbar – 211341815 – Reading Commentary 01 – Winfield – Thoughts from the Green
To explore the potential for a paradigm shift in Canadian Agriculture and Food policy from
1. A policy paradigm whose goals have been narrowly focussed on the short term
maximisation of production, particularly for export; to one which attempts to achieve a
wider range of policy goals which are multifunctional and include the advancement of the
economic, social and environmental sustainability within the agriculture and food sector.
2. Narrow range of state institutions and nonstate actors has been involved in policy
formulation and implementation; to one engaging a wider range of interests and
3. To explore the potential parallels between the environmental policy experience in
Canada, particularly over the past four decades and the emerging situation in the food
and agriculture case.
In Canada, pollution problems were largely left in the realm of private law and municipal
governments. Human tragedies such as the Great Depression and the Second World War led to
major reductions in the budgets of the emergent natural resources and public health management
agencies. But the author acknowledged that care for the environment was neglected by the
monarch institutions during the colonial period.
The author identifies the dominant paradigm flowing from European colonization of
North America from the 16 century onwards saw the continent’s wilderness as a source of
potential wealth through extraction, processing and export and as sink wastes with virtually
infinite absorptive capacity. This care free outlook towards nature led to unsustainable
agricultural practices that included trapping, hunting and fishing that went unmonitored by a
relevant institution until it was too late.
The onset of the industrial revolution in the 1700s and 1800s meant that Canada was
competing with Europe and New colonies in attempts to grow their economy and develop
infrastructure through urban planning and creation of vast industrial complexes. Irruptions of
migratory people from the old world towards settlement in the North American ecosystem
facilitated further environmental degradation for the sake of progress. By the early 1900s, mass
urbanization in Southern Ontario led to record level of pollutants being recorded in air quality
The need for government approved policies that could improve the environmental quality
for the dense population of people located in the Ontario province became necessary. At Shakeel Dilbar – 211341815 – Reading Commentary 01 – Winfield – Thoughts from the Green
international level, the CanadaUS Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and Migratory Birds
Convention of 1911 signified recognition of the potential for regional scale adverse impacts to
flow from industrial activities and urban development, and ecological connectedness of the North
The initial successes of the conservation and public health movements were largely
derailed by the combined impacts of the Great Depression and the Second World War. In Canada,
Imperatives of industrial production during wartime meant that the public health driven
requirements for pollution abatement were largely set aside. By the 1940s and 1950s governments
showed recognition of their neglect for the environment during these human tragedies and sought
to manage socioeconomic development within emerging economies with ecological degradation
as a direct result of natural resource extraction rates that fed the European industrial complex.
The author coined the term ‘bipartite bargaining’ where environmental agencies and regulated
facilities negotiated the legal requirements for pollution abatement / control paradigms which
defined the Canadian environmental policy from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Canadian Environmental policy had its early theory embedded in ‘end of pipe’ abatement
technologies to be applied to industrial complexes that emitted waste into the environment.
Adaptive legislation required companies to be more innovative in resource extraction,
consumption tracking and waste management in light of newer industrial technologies and a
better understanding of feedback cycle responses between natural phenomena and anthropogenic
activities to the North American biosphere. These early breakthroughs in scientific recording and
data manipulation allowed scientists from the Great Lakes region to identify point sources of
pollutants in the area and devise new ways of capping and containing these pollutants from
public waterways and urbanized areas.
A public health movement began to make linkages between pollution and public health
during the same period. By the end of the 1920s, the beginnings of institutional and legislative
frameworks were in place for more sustainable approaches to natural resources management and
the control of pollution. The emergence of national parks and protected areas (‘greenbelts’)
began to be established in Canada and the United States. By the late 19 century these views
began to change out of concern over the unsustainable harvesting of renewable natural resources,
particularly forests led to the emergence of North American natural resources ‘conservation’
movement grounded in the developing academic disciplines and professions around natural
resources science and management.
The author asks whether these apparent successes actually imply a paradigm shift in the fields of
environmental and natural resources management from a model which regarded these activities Shakeel Dilbar – 211341815 – Reading Commentary 01 – Winfield – Thoughts from the Green
as adjuncts to conventional growth oriented economic frameworks, to one which places
sustainability at the centre of economic and environmental policy.
The author states that modern environmental movement has achieved considerable
success in the ‘institutionalization’ of concern for the environment and in relation to a range of
specific local, regional and global environmental problems. However, it has not succeeded in
displacing the dominant growthoriented policy paradigms that continue to define the economic,
environmental and natural resources management policies of governments around the world.
The author continuously highlights the old bipartite bargaining model as deeply embedded in
older institutions such as the United Nations that it is near impossible to administer wholesale
reform of this archaic system without eviscerating the entire existing bureaucracies..
The definition of policy entrepreneurship is explained as individuals and organizations,
who champion specific policy changes that are crucially important in situations like
environmental policy, where benefits of policy change are likely to be widely distributed in
society, but the costs concentrated among a relatively small number of actors. The affected actors
may be inclined to resist this change but must meet with a ‘policy entrepreneur’ to speak on their
behalf or remain largely ignored/ unarticulated during the project planning stage.
The author says that in parallel with the movement away from the bipartite model, the
development of the ‘entrepreneurial’ model began to take shape. Its roots defined by
entrepreneurial behavior, resulting in fr