Date of Award
Professor V. Walters
This dissertation uses a case study of environmental legislation, the Ontario "Spills" Bill, to explore why sometimes the capitalist state acts against the capitalist class and the role of social forces in this process. In so doing it employs a Gramscian analysis to examine the various strategies of the Bill's supporters and opponents, and the government's response. It utilizes an interpretive historical methodology, with archival material and interviews with key informants as its data sources. The substantive goal of the dissertation is to improve our understanding of the problems inherent in the creation of effective pollution legislation. The study establishes that in this case fluctuations in the balance of power affected the government's position; and that these were influenced by structural constraints, power resources, political change, alliances, prevailing ideologies, environmental events and the international insurance market. In addition, it notes that underlying this struggle was another conflict over the institution of a new legal regime.
The perception that there is a lack of differentiation between the types and uses of the property owned by polluters is identified as aiding the maintenance of the status quo. Health is observed to act as a surrogate for environmental issues in pressuring for change, but to provide only a fragile foundation for environmental change. Overall, the project illustrates the structural constraints that limit the actions of governments and restrict the influence of capitalists. Additionally, it demonstrates the role of agency in encouraging change, and the obstacles that political will can overcome to achieve any change.
Beardwood, Barbara Ann, "Pressures and Constraints: The Ontario "Spills" Bills" (1994). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1787.