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A Bibliography on Local Government in
British Columbia - Continued
Local Government in Canada: General
The detailed study of local government in Canada is a relatively new
field. Despite some important earlier works, the bulk of the
literature has been written since the 1960s. Other characteristics
of the literature are the following: much of it is focused on
Ontario; a substantial portion of it is fairly descriptive in
character; and there is a strong historical component to many
analyses. There is also a strong focus on urban government, with
less attention to the needs of small towns and rural areas.
Themes found in the literature include: the extent to which local
governments are "creatures of the provinces" and how this
limits their scope for action; the longstanding complaints of local
governments that they have inadequate financing; the need for
coordination between levels of government; the historical evolution
of local government structures; the need for better internal
management techniques; arguments for, and more rarely against, the
introduction of party politics into the local government arena; and
the question of "who holds power at the local level?" More
generally, an underlying theme is "what is the purpose of local
government?" The answer usually centres on the need to balance
the "service" or "administrative" or
"efficiency" dimension of local government against the
"access" or "representation" or
There are three main analytical approaches to the study of local
government. They go by various names, but first there is mainstream,
institutional analysis, often focusing on questions about public
administration. Its traditional concerns include enhancing the
capacity of local governments -- by consolidating them into larger
units, increasing financial and technical resources, and improving
communications with the public -- and ensuring more effective
coordination of their activities. Critics from the left have taken
quite a different approach. They have tried to show what interests
governments have served, focusing especially on the way that
planning and services provided by local governments have benefitted
property owners. Often, this approach leads to arguments for a
redirection of the public policy to help those whose needs have been
neglected in the past. Public choice theory is the third approach.
It also stresses the link between economic concerns and political
ones, but in a different way. It adopts a more pluralistic
conception of the number of groups which have an influence on
government, and draws parallels between peoples' behaviour in the
public and private sectors. In terms of public administration
analysis, public choice theory argues that different services have
different economies of scale, and that separate bodies which
coordinate their services can be just as efficient, if not more so,
than large, unitary hierarchies. It also argues that competition
increases efficiency, and that in many cases it is better for a
municipality to contract out services -- either through joint
arrangements or directly to other communities, or to the private
sector -- than to provide every service itself.
One thing that the reader should be cautious about is assuming
that the American literature is applicable to Canada. As comparative
studies have shown, the powers of American local governments are
significantly different from those of Canadian local governments.
Social and economic differences in the two countries also mean that
the problems of Canadian city-dwellers are not entirely the same as
those faced by Americans. However, there are also similarities, in
such things as service delivery concerns.
One final theme which is common in the literature is the need for
more empirical studies, and especially more comparative studies.
There is much still unknown about the workings of local government
A. General Sources
Bettison, David G. The Politics of Canadian
Urban Development. Edmonton: Published for the Human Resources
Research Council by The University of Alberta Press, 1975.
Brittain, Horace L. Local Government in
Canada. Toronto: Ryerson, 1951.
Brownstone, Meyer and T.J. Plunkett.
Metropolitan Winnipeg: Politics and Reform of Local Government.
Berkeley: Published for the Institute of Governmental Studies and
the Institute of International Studies, University of California,
Berkeley, by the University of California Press, 1983.
Crawford, K.G. Canadian Municipal
Government. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1954.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities. 50
Years Making History. Ottawa: FCM, 1987. This publication
replaces the May-June 1987 issue of FORUM. Cover title
begins 1937 FCM 1987.
Feldman, Lionel D., ed. Politics
and Government of Urban Canada: Selected Readings. 4th ed.
Toronto: Methuen, 1981.
Higgins, Donald J. H. Local and
Urban Politics in Canada. Toronto: Gage, 1986.
Kaplan, Harold. Reform, Planning, and City
Politics: Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1982.
Kernaghan, Kenneth and David Siegel.
Public Administration in Canada: A Text. Chapter 11,
"Structures and Politics of Local Government
Administration," 587-612. Toronto: Metheun, 1987.
Leo, Christopher. Strong Government, Weak
Government: Classifying Municipal Structural Change. Research
and Working Paper no. 23. Winnipeg: Institute of Urban Studies,
University of Winnipeg, 1986. Includes useful comments on different
theoretical approaches to the study of local government in Canada.
Lithwick, N. H. Urban Canada: Problems and
Prospects. Ottawa: Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation,
Lorimer, James. A Citizen's Guide to City
Politics. Toronto: James Lewis and Samuel, 1972.
Magnusson, Warren. "The Local State in
Canada: Theoretical Perspectives." Canadian Public
Administration 28 (Winter 1985): 575-99.
Magnusson, Warren. "Political Science,
Political Economy, and the Local State." Urban History
Review 14 (June 1985): 47-53.
Magnusson, Warren and Andrew Sancton,
eds. City Politics in Canada. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1983.
Oberlander, H. Peter, ed., assisted by Hilda
Symonds. Canada: An Urban Agenda. Ottawa:
The Community Planning Press and ASPO Press, 1976.
Plunkett, Thomas J. Urban Canada and Its
Government: A Study of Municipal Organization. Toronto:
Plunkett, T. J. and Katherine Graham.
"Whither Municipal Government?" Canadian Public
Administration 25 (Winter 1982): 603-18.
Sabetti, Filippo. "Reflections on Canadian
Urban Governance Research." Comparative Urban Research
8, no. 2 (1981): 87-112.
Tindal, C. R. and S. Nobes Tindal.
Local Government in Canada. 2nd ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill
B. Intergovernmental Relations
In addition to Higgins (above), see:
Cameron, David M. "Provincial
Responsibilities for Municipal Government." Canadian Public
Administration 23 (Summer 1980): 222-35.
Canadian Federation of Mayors and Municipalities.
Puppets on a Shoestring: The Effects on Municipal Government of
Canada's System of Public Finance. Ottawa, 1976.
Doerr, Audrey D. "Organizing for Urban
Policy: Some Comments on the Ministry of State for Urban
Affairs." Canadian Journal of Regional Science 5
(Spring 1982): 95-101.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Resource
Task Force on Constitutional Reform. Municipal Government in a
New Canadian Federal System. Ottawa, 1980.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Municipal
Government in a New Canadian Federal System, Second Report.
Feldman, Lionel D. and Graham, Katherine
A. Bargaining for Cities - Municipalities and
Intergovernmental Relations, An Assessment. Montreal: Institute
for Research on Public Policy, 1979.
Kitchen, Harry M. and Melville L.
McMillan. "Local Government in Canadian
Federalism." In Intergovernmental Relations, Richard
Simeon, research co-ordinator, 215-61. The Collected Research
Studies; The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development
Prospects for Canada, no. 63. Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
Oberlander, H. Peter and Arthur L.
Fallick, eds. The Ministry of State for Urban Affairs:
A Courageous Experiment in Public Administration. Vancouver:
Centre for Human Settlements, Faculty of Graduate Studies,
University of British Columbia, 1987.
O'Brien, Allan. "The Ministry of State for
Urban Affairs: A Municipal Perspective." The Canadian
Journal of Regional Science 5 (Spring 1982): 83-94.
Richmond, Dale E. "Some Common Issues in
Provincial-Municipal Transfer Systems." Canadian Public
Administration 23 (Summer 1980): 252-68.
Siegel, David. "Provincial-Municipal
Relations in Canada: An Overview." Canadian Public
Administration 23 (Summer 1980): 281-317.
C. International Comparisons
Frisken, Frances. "Canadian Cities and the
American Example: A Prologue to Urban Policy
Analysis." Canadian Public Administration 29 (Fall
Goldberg, Michael A. and John Mercer.
The Myth of the North American City: Continentalism Challenged.
Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986.
Gunlicks, Arthur B., ed. Local
Government Reform and Reorganization: An International Perspective.
See especially Lionel D. Feldman and
Katherine A. Graham, "Local Government Reform in
Canada," 151-68. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1981.
Sancton, Andrew. "Conclusion: Canadian City
Politics in Comparative Perspective," in Magnusson
and Sancton (above), pages 291-317.
Please send any comments or questions to Nicola.Marotz@gov.bc.ca
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