[Canada & the Global Economy: The Geography of Structural & Technological Change]

By Cutler, A. Claire; Britton, John N. | International Journal, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

[Canada & the Global Economy: The Geography of Structural & Technological Change]


Cutler, A. Claire, Britton, John N., International Journal


This impressive volume comprises contributions from twenty-three economic geographers examining the economic and spatial development of the Canadian economy. The stated task of the volume is 'to capture Canada's deeper and abiding economic characteristics, to assess the extent to which Canada is responsive to world-wide forces of change, and to identify problems inhibiting spatial and structural evolution of the economy' (p 6). The contributors explore four main themes, which provide coherence for the volume's five parts. Some themes are of more interest then others to students of international relations because they address the influence that such powerful global forces as advances in information technology and changes in the legal regulation of trade have on industrial organization and development in Canada. The papers provide a rich source of information about the domestic impact of globalization and privatization in a variety of industries and sectors. In some cases, they offer rather sobering evidence about the regional implications of deregulatory policies and about the loss of rational autonomy attending the internationalization of production and finance. Part One, 'The Open Economy,' discusses the impact that the openness of the Canadian economy has on patterns of trade and investment and on domestic, sectoral, and spacial development. There is much of interest here for students of international relations, particularly those interested in links between the local and global political economies. Glen Norcliffe analyses patterns of foreign trade in goods and services. He notes a 'technology gap' in Canadian trade, which he attributes to a lack of concern over the foreign acquisition of technological innovation and the consequent 'policy vacuum' (p 38) in Canadian government, and he makes a case for greater diversification of trading partners. Trevor Barnes examines the regional impact of openness, modifying Harold Innis's staples model of development with reference to Fordist and post-Fordist theories. In connecting trading patterns with production relations in the context of the economy of British Columbia, he convincingly illustrates 'a direct relationship between the type of trade in which Canada engages and its historic inability to become a fully industrialized nation' (p 50). Alan MacPherson focusses on shifts in Canadian direct investment abroad and foreign direct investment in Canada. Of note is the observation that the increasing popularity of 'investment by acquisition reflects an accelerating international trend toward industrial concentration, corporate integration, and oligopolist competition' and is accompanied by a 'progressive blurring of international political boundaries (p 81). Geoffrey Dobillas places the Canadian financial system in the global context of technological innovations in the instruments and methods of finance and the deregulation and integration of financial markets and concludes that the 'most obvious consequence for Canada of the internationalization of finance is a loss of domestic autonomy in choosing the direction for the finance and banking sector' (p 93). The next three parts develop the themes concerning the impact of regional variation in resource endowments and urbanization on the Canadian economy and the influence of technological change on Canadian development. 'The New Staple Economy' includes analyses of forest, mineral, energy, and agricultural resources. Roger Hayter addresses the technological challenge for the forest products industry, while Ian Wallace focusses on the restructuring of the mining and mineral-processing industries in response to global influences. …

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