New book examines Canadian environmental politics

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The Canadian Environment in Political Context by Andrea Olive

The Canadian Environment in Political Context by Andrea Olive

By Mahmoud Haidar

The Great Lakes region includes parts of eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

And that distinction makes Great Lakes policy complicated.

There is a large difference between the duties, responsibilities and privileges of the states in the U.S. and the provinces in Canada, said Andrea Olive, a professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga and author of the recently published The Canadian Environment in Political Context.

“In Canada the provinces are immensely powerful,” Olive said. “States would be so jealous if they knew.”

Such differences prompted every provincial premier in Canada to join Justin Trudeau, that country’s new prime minister, at France’s recent climate summit.

“We brought the biggest entourage of people ever,” Olive said. “The only other country that brought more people was France, and that’s because it was there.”

This is because Canada’s unique political system and the power of its ten provinces, she said.

Her book provides the history and current status of Canadian environmental activism. She includes measures of air quality, water quality, agriculture and land, fish and fisheries, forest, biodiversity and the species at risk.

Olive, who is an expert in political science, works on multiple research projects, including endangered species policy, endangered habitat that overlaps indigenous land and the way the news media depicts hydraulic fracking.

It was her teaching of a course in Canadian environmental policy that prompted her to write the book, she said.

“There just really isn’t a book in Canada that (explains) the Canadian environmental scene and explains it into our parliamentary democracy,” Olive said. “So it was to benefit students by being better able to teach this course.”

Her hope is that readers understand the Canadian political system, and allow for more accurate expectations of their political leaders.

“There is so much emphasis put on the wrong actors, on the wrong pressure points,” she said. “If people could learn and understand a bit more on how we make policy, that could ultimately lead to better environmental policy.”

Olive also discusses other differences such as Canada’s greater abundance of resources and the United States’ larger population size and density.

The book is accompanied by a website, where Olive writes updates on environmental news.

Olive’s book from the University of Toronto Press in paperback is for sale on for $49.99.

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