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Federal endangered species legislation in Canada : explaining the lack of a policy outcome Amos, William Ambrose

Abstract

This thesis attempts to uncover the reasons why Canada, unlike the United States and Australia, does not have stand alone federal endangered species legislation. In particular, I will focus upon the history of Bill C-65, the proposed federal endangered species statute which died on the Order Table in 1997. Using the "policy regime" framework developed by George Hoberg, I examine the ideas, actors, and institutions that have combined within a given set of background conditions to produce this distinctive lack of a policy outcome, assessing the relative causal importance of each variable in terms Bill C-65's failure. Using Peter Haas' epistemic community approach, the causal knowledge of conservation scientists' regarding habitat loss is found not to have influenced the policy substance of Bill C-65. However, it is argued that scientists did play an important role in the legislative failure insofar as they joined forces with environmentalists to discredit the weak scope and substance of the bill. These pro-environment actors, however, were matched throughout the interest group competition by the parallel forces of industry and private landowner groups, who criticized Bill C-65 as a litigious, punitive and "American" style of legislation. The provinces, for their part, sided with the landowners and industry groups, arguing that the federal government had overstepped its wildlife management jurisdiction. Given a context of low public concern for environmental issues, and the institutional trend towards regulatory decentralization, the federal government had very few incentives to introduce a strong bill. However, the provinces, landowners, and industry groups, all felt it was too strong, while environmentalists and scientists felt just the opposite. Bill C-65's failure, therefore, was the result of the federal government's inability to satisfy anyone on this issue. Determining who "won" this first endangered species battle, however, is quite difficult without knowing whether Cabinet felt the bill was too strong or too weak, and without knowing what the next legislative proposal will entail. In conclusion, it is found that all three regime components of ideas, actors, and institutions were equally important factors in bringing about the failure of Bill C-65, and the current policy delay that continues to this day.

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