A new book by Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Stepan Wood (LLB ’92) and University of Toronto political economist Stephen Clarkson has been nominated for the Canadian Political Science Association’s prestigious 2011 Smiley Prize for the best book on Canadian politics.
Examining Canadians’ complicated roles as agents and objects of global forces, A Perilous Imbalance (UBC Press, 2010) shines an urgent light on the dangerous imbalances in contemporary forms of globalized law and governance. From French and British colonial politics to the SARS epidemic, Canadians have long known how it feels to be objects of global forces. But they are also agents who have helped build structures of global governance that have highly uneven impacts on prosperity, human security and the environment.
Left: Stepan Wood
The winner of the 2011 Smiley Prize will be announced at the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, on May 17.
A Perilous Imbalance examines Canada’s experience of globalization in the context of three interlinked trends: the emergence of a neoconservative global “supra-constitution”, the paradoxical retreat and expansion of the Canadian nation-state and the growth of unconventional forms of governance beyond the state. It advocates a revitalization of the state as a vehicle for pursuing human security, ecological integrity and social emancipation, and for creating spaces in which progressive, alternative forms of law and governance can unfold.
With its critical analysis of the challenges faced by middle powers such as Canada in a globalizing world, A Perilous Imbalance further cements Osgoode’s pre-eminence in the study of international and transnational legal issues, says Wood. The book has been very well received. Reviewers have praised it as “sophisticated, bold and accessible,” “important reading for anyone seeking to assess Canada’s legal and political engagement with globalization” and “a comprehensive account of Canada’s entanglement with globalization’s legal rules and institutions.”
The Smiley Prize honours the life and work of the late Donald V. Smiley (1921-1990), a leading Canadian political scientist and former Professor Emeritus at York University. It is awarded each year to the best book published on Canadian government and politics – one award for an English-language book, one for French. “I took an advanced seminar with Professor Smiley when I was an undergraduate political science major at York in the 1980s,” recalls Wood. “He fostered a challenging yet friendly atmosphere that brought out the best in his students. I feel particularly honoured to be associated with his name again after so many years.”
The book was the fruit of a cross-disciplinary collaboration that began when Wood and Clarkson were both virtual scholars in residence at the now defunct Law Commission of Canada. Working with Clarkson, whose contribution to the study of Canadian and North American political economy was recently recognized with the Order of Canada, was a highly rewarding experience for Wood. “Collaborating with Stephen was a pleasure from start to finish,” says Wood. “Our very different knowledge and expertise complemented each other nicely and Stephen has been an exceptionally generous and supportive colleague and friend.”