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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 "responsiveness" dimension.
 

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 in Canada.
 

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, 1970.
 

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: Macmillan, 1968.
 

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 Ryerson, 1984.
 

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. Ottawa, 1982.
 

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, 1985.
 

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 1986): 345-76.
 

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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