Local and Urban Politics
Session: E4 - Urban Political Authority (II): Governance, Public Policy and Expertise
Joint Session / Séance conjointe: with/avec CHA
Chair/Président: Zack Taylor (University of Western Ontario)
Participants & Authors/Auteurs: (Click titles for Abstract and Paper.)
Zack Taylor (University of Western Ontario) : Political Development and Scale: The Urban Origins of the Canadian Welfare State
Abstract: Political development scholars in political science have focused on broad historical transformations in the architecture of national authority, while political geographers and sociologists have focused on the contemporary politics of “rescaling,” shifts in authority between levels of the state. This paper argues that these constructs are essentially identical and that each may empirically enrich the other. A scalar reading of political development is illustrated with an examination of the development of the Canadian welfare state. This process is typically viewed through the lens of postwar federal-provincial relations. This perspective however obscures earlier processes through which nongovernmental entities operating within cities, and responding to distinctively urban problems, emerged in the nineteenth century. The collapse of this patchwork during the Great Depression led to the expansion first of municipal and then provincial social provision, largely through the subordination of previously independent agents to mandates. Since the 1990s the articulation of this “delegated welfare state” has again been transformed as command-and-control by senior governments has been replaced by cross-scale collaborative “multi-level governance” arrangements in which local nongovernmental service agencies ostensibly possess greater autonomy than before. A long-term political development perspective affords new perspectives on rescaling processes, not least how today’s multi-level governance may share important characteristics with pre-welfare-state modes of social provision.
Jack Lucas (University of Calgary) : Social Welfare and the Urban Policy Ecology in Toronto, 1870-1930
Abstract: During the urban reform era, political authority in the area of social policy was exceptionally fluid. A vast array of institutions -- ranging from state reformatories to private orphans' homes -- were active in the policy domain, each of them funded, governed, and inspected by a different mix of municipal, provincial, federal, and private political actors. This paper seeks to understand the development of political authority in the urban social policy domain, and asks what we can learn from the child welfare case about processes of urban authority -- the processes by which policy tasks are assigned to particular political institutions and policy actors. This paper reports the results of an analysis of a series of "institutional biographies" in the social policy domain in Toronto, along with an analysis of attempts to centralize and coordinate social policy making in Toronto. The paper examines how and why policy tasks shifted within and among the "ecology" of policy tasks in the social policy domain during this period. My analysis provides a new perspective on how policy tasks emerged during the urban reform period, the forms of political authority that were operative during that period, and the eventual movement of many social policy tasks toward local and then provincial centralization.
Richard White (University of Toronto Mississauga) : The Impotence of Expertise: The Case of Toronto’s 1943 Master Plan
Abstract: Toronto’s Master Plan was devised by an “advisory technical committee” appointed by and working under the auspices of a formally constituted city planning board created by city council in 1942, largely to advise the City how to deal with postwar reconstruction. This committee consisted of the local technical elite in the field of urban and regional planning. In the end, however, the committee’s plan had no direct effect on public policy. There is no question that the experts who produced this comprehensive plan had no authority whatsoever, the basic message of which is that one should not assume expertise and authority always come together as a pair. But this study raises two further questions. One is why, and perhaps in more detail how, this group’s expertise was so decisively rejected. The answer may lie in the socio-politics of Toronto portrayed by Harold Kaplan in his 1982 book Reform, Planning and City Politics – the city of Toronto was dominated by a populist bourgeoisie that had little time for experts – but the subject warrants further discussion since it seems to hold insights into the fundamental relationship between expertise and authority. The other is why the rejection of this plan, and more generally the impotence of its creators’ expertise, has not been noticed by other analysts of the episode – and there have been a few. This too will be discussed, and some possible answers offered.
Gabriel Eidelman (University of Toronto) : ‘Better Government Through Research’: The Legacy of the Bureau of Municipal Research
Abstract: Established in 1914, the Toronto-based Bureau of Municipal Research published over 800 bulletins and reports on urban issues in Canada before closing its doors in 1983. Its mission, encapsulated in its motto, was to produce “Better Government through Research.” Many of the Bureau’s employees went on to become household names in the study and practice of urban governance in Canada, including Horace L. Brittain, author of the first textbook on municipal government in Canada (Local Government in Canada, 1951), and Anne Golden, former chair of the Greater Toronto Area Task Force. Yet the legacy of the Bureau has never been fully considered. What does the Bureau’s past teach us about Canada’s urban political history? And what insights does it reveal about contemporary urban politics? This paper answers these questions by investigating the Bureau’s complete body of work, examining how paradigms of good (or “better”) urban governance evolved over time, and comparing notions of political authority, legitimacy, and accountability in cities past and present.
Abstract: Multiple panel workshop
Who governs? For more than five decades, this question has animated the study of Canadian urban politics. While the interpretation of the question, and the theories and methods that have been used to explore it, have evolved through the years, political scientists who study Canadian cities remain interested in understanding how governing authority is constructed in the city, how that authority evolves over time, and the forms of inclusion and exclusion that emerge out of existing patterns of political authority.
This interdisciplinary panel will explore the question of Canadian urban governance in a set of four research papers on the development of Canadian urban planning, public administration, and social policy. The panel will feature a range of theories, methods, and cases, with a special emphasis on Canada’s largest city, Toronto.
This panel will be the second of two interdisciplinary panels, each of which will feature papers by both historians and political scientists. This panel will be of interest to political scientists who study Canadian urban governance, urban planning, and comparative social policy.
Political scientists and historians in Canada have long shared an interest in Canadian cities. Theories, methods, and interpretations from both disciplines – ranging from pluralism and community power to urban ecology and urban social history – have formed the basis for a shared conversation about the distinct characteristics of Canada’s urban politics and local government institutions and their historical foundations. Recently, however, this interdisciplinary exchange has been in decline. We believe that an interdisciplinary exchange between historians and political scientists who are working on questions of urban politics, policy, and political development continues to hold much promise. To this end, we propose a set of two interdisciplinary panels, each featuring both historians and political scientists, on the broad theme of urban political authority. We will propose these panels to both the Canadian Political Science Association and the Canadian Historical Association, with the intention of scheduling the panels during a period of overlap between the two conferences, and listing the panels in each association’s conference schedule. We believe that each of our proposed panels stands on its own merit, featuring high-quality research papers that will be of immediate interest to Canadian political scientists. However, we also hope that the two panels will both demonstrate and provoke a renewed interdisciplinary exchange on questions of politics and authority in Canadian cities.