The Greening of Canada: Federal Institutions and Decisions


297 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7599-1
DDC 363.7'0560971




Reviewed by Simon Dalby

Simon Dalby is an assistant professor of geography at Carleton
University in Ottawa.


This scholarly review of the Canadian government’s actions on
environmental problems over the last 25 years is both detailed and
comprehensive. The authors ask, among other questions, how the Canadian
environmental agenda has been set, where progress and failure have
occurred in policy, and what role the Department of Environment (DOE)
has played in these processes. In answering these questions, the authors
use detailed research as well as their many interviews with key

The strength of the book lies in its weaving of the various facets of
bureaucratic arrangements and political pressures together with the
changing scientific understanding of environmental phenomena. This
approach explains both development of policy and legislation, as well as
the historical evolution of the department from the early 1970s to the
late 1980s, when environmental themes once again became prominent
political issues. The latter sections of the volume emphasize that as
environmental problems become larger and more complex, regulation and
government policy will similarly become more complex. One wonders
whether new innovations in the policy framework of “sustainable
development” can possibly come to grips with problems that often seem
beyond the scope of conventional policymaking.

The Greening of Canada is a useful addition to the literature on
Canada’s environmental governance, and will be especially useful to
environmental activists trying to understand the institutional
circumstances that shape both government policy and their own campaigns.


Doern, G. Bruce, and Thomas Conway., “The Greening of Canada: Federal Institutions and Decisions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 28, 2024,