Book explores crucial link between Ontario’s environment and economy

Winfield bookcover

Winfield bookcoverA York professor’s new book offers the first comprehensive study of Ontario’s environmental policy and what it may spell for the future.

Blue-Green Province: The Environment and Political Economy of Ontario (University of British Columbia Press) will launch Thursday, Feb. 9, from 3 to 5pm, at 140 Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, Keele campus. The launch is a joint collaboration between the Faculty of Environmental Studies Sustainable Energy Initiative and the York University Bookstore. Everyone is welcome to attend and refreshments will be served.

The book explores the relationship between the environment and Ontario’s society, politics and economy through the Progressive Conservative dynasty of premiers George Drew, Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis, the “quiet” and “common sense” revolutions of David Peterson, Bob Rae and Mike Harris, through to the Dalton McGuinty era.

Authored by Mark Winfield, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, the book includes examinations of the 2011 federal and provincial election outcomes and their Mark Winfieldimplications for future environmental and energy policy in Ontario and Canada.

Left: Mark Winfield

“The province is searching for a way to regain its pre-eminent status in Confederation, but its managerially-oriented government has seemed unable to articulate a compelling vision for the way forward,” says Winfield.

“Ontario is facing tests that will require vision and leadership, including the declining United States market for our exports, difficulties for export-oriented industries posed by a rising Canadian dollar, the regional impacts of climate change and the rural-urban split evident in the outcome of the 2011 election. We’re also facing challenges stemming from a federal government oriented towards the interests of western Canada, and the need to recover Toronto’s role as the anchor of the Greater Golden Horseshoe and as an emerging global city.”

The book focuses on the interplay between levels of public concern for environmental issues and the ideological orientation of the province’s Liberal, Progressive Conservative and NDP governments in understanding their approaches to environmental issues. Its findings have implications beyond Ontario, and help to explain for the recent behavior of the federal Conservative government towards the environment.

Despite the fact that environmental policy has become increasingly important in Ontario politics, very little scholarship has been devoted to exploring the development of that policy or the crucial relationship between the environment and the province’s wider political economy.

“I believe this book fills a significant gap in our understanding of factors that have shaped our environmental policy and will continue to inform it in future,” Winfield says.

Winfield is co-chair of the Faculty of Environmental Studies Sustainable Energy Initiative and a Fellow of York’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability.

For more information about the launch, visit the Faculty of Environmental Studies website.