When it comes to implementing sustainable development, Canada often compares favourably with other countries (Johnson 1995 ; Dalal-Clayton 1996). Perhaps this is not surprising. Canada has a strong internationalist tradition and has been an enthusiastic joiner when it comes to international organizations and agreements. This was true of the processes surrounding the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) which popularized the concept of sustainable development. One Commissioner (Maurice Strong) and the Secretary General (Jim MacNeill) were Canadians. Strong was later named Secretary General for UNCED and had been Secretary General of the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. Canada was one of four countries the Commission visited on fact-finding missions and many individual Canadians and numerous Canadian organizations presented briefs to the Commission (WCED 1987: 366-87). Canada took its participation in UNCED seriously and was an important player at Rio. While Agenda 21 is seldom mentioned in Canadian discourse, 'sustainable development' is now in common use in both the public and private sectors (OECD 1995 : 201).
This chapter reviews the government of Canada's engagement with sustainable development. Environmental policy comprises a fundamental component of the sustainable development equation. In the Canadian federal system, jurisdiction over environmental policy is shared. Moreover, provincial and municipal governments also have important powers related to the economic and social policy dimensions of sustainable development. While there has been policy activity in support of sustainable development at the sub-national level in Canada, developments across the provinces and municipalities are very uneven and impossible to generalize about. Since the