Canada in Cities“The provinces have disengaged, which has created an interesting dance between the municipalities and the federal government.”—Katherine Graham

That change in dynamics between Canada’s three levels of government was the focus of a recent FPA Author Meets Readers event at Pressed, a café on Gladstone Avenue.

Katherine Graham, a Professor Emerita in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), discussed her book Canada in Cities: The Politics and Policy of Federal-Local Governance with visiting panelists Mohammed Adam of the Ottawa Citizen;  Christopher Stoney, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration; and Judith Maxwell of the Citizens Academy of Ottawa.

“The federal government has been involved with municipalities since the Halifax explosion,” said Professor Graham, who’s spent her career studying municipal governments. “But now, we see municipalities taking the lead.”

AMR-March-2016

From L to R: Panelists Judith Maxwell, Professor Katherine Graham, and Professor Christopher Stoney

The panel agreed that municipal requests for budget items such as transportation, homelessness, and child care were increasingly directed towards national leaders. They attributed this to the withdrawal of provinces from the conversation, particularly Ontario during the 1990s.

However, with the election of a Conservative majority government in 2011, Professor Stoney said, “we lost the municipal infrastructure that had been building up to that point” in response to a federal model of “smaller” government.

With the new Liberal government, he suspects there will be more spending on municipalities, although “the jury is still out”.

However, Judith Maxwell argued that the ingredients are present for a stronger collaboration between the federal government and municipalities.

“I expect municipalities and civil society organizations will become more active players over the next five to ten years,” she said. “The question is how many of the people who are involved with these issues will still be around.”

The book Canada in Cities: The Politics and Policy of Federal-Local Governance was co-edited by Professor Graham and Caroline Andrew, the director of the Centre on Governance at the University of Ottawa.

Author Meets Readers invites Carleton students and the community to join an informal discussion on new books published by members of the Carleton University Faculty of Public Affairs.

Learn more about the next Author Meets Readers.

Friday, April 1, 2016 in ,
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