Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

New Directions in Saskatchewan Public Policy/Remaining Loyal: Social Democracy in Quebec and Saskatchewan

Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

New Directions in Saskatchewan Public Policy/Remaining Loyal: Social Democracy in Quebec and Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

McGrane, David P. (Ed.). New Directions in Saskatchewan Public Policy. Regina, Canada: CPRC Press, University of Regina, 2011

David McGrane Remaining Loyal: Social Democracy in Quebec and Saskatchewan Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014

David McGrane is an associate professor of political studies at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. Over the course of three years, he published two books on Saskatchewan and Quebec (Canadian provinces) social democratic politics in the (McGrane, 2011, 2014), a considerable accomplishment. This research on Saskatchewan and Quebec social democratic governments is important to students of public sector innovation because these provinces have often been the most innovative in Canada (see also, for example, Glor, 1997, 2002 in which I identify 159 innovations of the Saskatchewan government of 1971-82). This suggest ideology may be important to innovation.

McGrane 's Remaining Loyal: Social Democracy in Quebec and Saskatchewan examines the ideology of social democratic parties and governments in Quebec and Saskatchewan. He argues (1) that the Saskatchewan Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor, the New Democratic Party were and remain social democratic parties, and that the Rassemblement pour l'indépendence nationale (RIN) from 1963 and the Parti Québecois (PQ) from 1968 in Quebec were and are social democratic parties (page 64), (2) that the "third way" successors to the "traditional" social democratic parties in Quebec and Saskatchewan are social democratic parties; and (3) that while Quebec's political culture may not be consistently social democratic, Saskatchewan's political culture has been, although this may be in the process of changing (page 246). In making these assertions, McGrane takes on several of the major controversies in Canadian and social democratic politics in Canada and internationally.

McGrane's claims hinge on his definition of social democracy. He distinguishes between the Fabian theory and that of Eduard Bernstein, a German who spent time with the Fabians in the United Kingdom. His first distinction is between the Fabians' and Bernstein's definitions of social democracy. The key to this difference is his understanding of the Fabians' sense of evolution in history as being inevitable, gradual and irreversible and Bernstein's as not being inevitable, nor as having a fixed, final goal. McGrane adopts the latter perspective-social democracy is "the implementation of a certain set of principles by a group of determined reformers whose specific goals vary by time and place" (McGrane, 2014: 19)-and concludes "Social democracy should not be seen as a fixed set of policies then, but rather a set of values" (p. 206).1

McGrane makes a second distinction between the Fabians and Bernstein, namely, their approach to democracy and rights. The Fabians favour democracy because it is a mechanism to achieve socialist reforms, but Bernstein understands democracy as both means and end: it is the means to achieve socialism and it is the form in which socialism will be achieved. Bernstein's idea of democracy includes justice, defined as equality of rights including minority rights, and limits on the rule of the majority. He sees social democracy as the heir to liberalism but as adopting a higher ideal, because it guarantees civil, social and economic democracy.

Unlike in Europe, in Canada affiliation with the labour movement was not very important (pages 29-30), nor was class politics in the emergence of social democracy in Saskatchewan and Quebec. In fact, small farmers were a much more important political constituency in Saskatchewan. Even more important was the development of social movements that provided an acceptable context and legitimacy for government intervention in the economy after World War II. The economy, political institutions, and political agents were also important (page 165). …

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