UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Commissions of inquiry and participation in Canada MacVay, Iain


Commissions of Inquiry have been used as public policy instruments for hundreds of years by governments in Britain and since before confederation by governments in Canada. Over the years, the principle function of commissions has varied from minor investigations of specific instances of wrongdoing, to wide ranging investigations of major public policy issues. In Canada, a shift occurred from the former function to the latter during the 1930s and 1940s. Since the 1930s, Canadian commissions have also begun to actively encourage participation by members of the public in commission hearings. This paper examines participation before commissions of both the traditional type and the modern type, with an emphasis on commissions which held hearings in the 1930s and those which held hearings in the 1970s. Sample commissions were chosen from both periods, and from both federal and provincial jurisdictions. Analysis of the participation data collected reveals that commissions have experienced a shift in the types of participants appearing before them from well-funded, highly organized interest groups and corporations in the hearings of traditional commmissions to voluntary groups and individuals in the hearings of modern commissions. Some consideration is given in the paper to the different mechanisms adopted by modern commissions to encourage and facilitate participation by people and groups with few resources. In particular, it is concluded from an analysis of the participation data that the number of locations at which commissions hold hearings has a substantial impact on participation by people and groups with few resources.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.