The Struggle to Organize: Resistance in Canada's Fishery


219 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-7710-2158-5




Reviewed by Terry A. Crowley

Terry A. Crowley is a professor of history at the University of Guelph,
and the author of Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality.


Canada is the world’s number one exporter of seafood. The fishery spawns more jobs than the automobile industry in Ontario, but the closest most Canadians come to thinking about the subject occurs when they eat fish and chips.

Since the Second World War, Canada’s fishery has experienced some profound changes due in part to the number of private and public actors involved. In this broad-ranging study, well-known Carleton sociologist Wallace Clement furthers his previous work on Canadian resource sectors. He attempts to analyze the transformation of the fishery by arguing that it must be understood within the context of property and class relationships.

Clement’s analytical Marxism sits lightly as he dissects the economic and social changes that have affected the fishery during the past 40 years. His attention is drawn to the principal forms of collective activity: fishermen’s associations, unions, and co-operatives. Rivalries between federal and provincial governments as well as the international context complete his portrait of the fishing industry.

Clement attacks the view commonly held among economists and government planners that the fishery is a common resource property. He reveals the array of interests that influence fishery policy and the disarray within the industry itself. In a challenging work that avoids over-simplification, Clement provides an analysis that is essential reading for all interested in this sector of the Canadian economy.


Clement, Wallace, “The Struggle to Organize: Resistance in Canada's Fishery,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,