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A prairie ocean : the new tidal wave of globalisation and prairie wheat marketing policy Röpke, Peter Norman


This dissertation examines the multifaceted and pervasive impact of globalisation on the Canadian public policy environment through a detailed analysis of the monopoly marketing of prairie wheat. The study argues that forces associated with globalisation, working through regionally differentiated configurations of farmer opinion and interest groups amidst varying partisan settings, are key to understanding the changing nature of policy-making processes, structures, and outcomes in the wheat marketing arena. The forces associated with globalisation include the increased presence of transnational corporations, the expansion of international trade regimes, increased interaction and cooperation between Canadian provincial governments and US state governments, the international harmonisation of regulations, advances in transportation technology, and heightened levels of education, knowledge, and information. In attempting to understand how globalisation influences the wheat policy arena, the examination uses a comparative analysis focusing on Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The inter-governmental harmony that had prevailed since the 1940s on the matter of Canadian Wheat Board's (CWB's) wheat monopoly was replaced by conflict by the 1990s as the forces of globalisation washed across the Canadian prairies. The dissertation shows that where the absence of these forces once reinforced the CWB's wheat monopoly, the presence of these forces now poses a formidable challenge to its continuation. Farmer opinion data indicates that a trend away from monopoly selling toward open marketing is present throughout the prairies. Like the presence of the forces of globalisation, anti-monopoly opinion is particularly strong in Alberta. The dissertation will also show how the conflict over monopoly wheat marketing was projected into the policy arena through differentiated sets of interest group configurations and partisan environments. In doing so, the examination points out that institutions, while often providing resistance to change, can also serve as conduits facilitating change. The analysis shows that the public policy network involved with the marketing of prairie wheat, as well as actors within this network, have become increasingly internationalised. The examination indicates that domestic governmental regulation and control have been severely undermined in the wheat marketing arena as north-south ties increasingly undermine and replace the east-west unity previously forged by the National Policy.

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