Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy. 2nd ed.


366 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-1181-1
DDC 333.7'0971





Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.


The scope of this book is less broad and inclusive than the title
suggests. Natural resources are largely restricted to forests in British
Columbia. Environmental policies are essentially confined to those
relating to the forest industry. The policy discussions tend to be
abstract and theoretical, presenting arguments for and against the
efficacy of policy initiatives and government regulations. The assets
that the authors enjoy as professors of sociology and political science
in British Columbia are qualified by the dearth of information about
environmental policies in actual practice.

An example is pulp mill effluent. The authors give us a clear
explanation of the complexities of jurisdiction over the forest industry
but no discussion of how these complexities have actually played out. In
some cases, the federal government has handed the enforcement of
effluent regulations over to the provinces. A scandal occurred in the
1990s when it was revealed that the federal government had no idea of
what had been enforced, nor how efficaciously. This episode is absent
from the book, with only passing references to British Columbia’s
Waste Management Act, over which again there have been clashes with the
federal government.

Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy contains passages of
great lucidity, such as the treatment of jurisdiction over natural
resources and the history of the softwood lumber dispute. This virtue of
the book is outweighed by its deficits. The root of the problem is that
the book tries to be both scholarly and accessible to the general
reader. The result is that we grind through the issues, exhaustively
treated in terms of theoretical argument, but giving us little clue as
to the effectiveness of the policies described. At the conclusion of
each chapter is a discussion of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
The relevance of climate action to forest policy is not explained.


Hessing, Melody, Michael Howlett, and Tracy Summerville., “Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023,