Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Limits of Deliberative Democracy and Empowerment: Elite Motivation in Three Canadian Cases

  • Genevieve Fuji Johnson (a1)

Abstract

Abstract. In recent years, elites in the Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), Nova Scotia Power Incorporated (NSP) and Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) held consultations based on principles of deliberative democracy with members of their affected publics. I explore five factors that may help us understand why some elites are inclined to empower members of their affected publics. These factors can be understood as characteristics of each policy context and include normative principle, public pressure, policy requirement, strategic management interest, and economic interest. Based on a comparative case study of a series of semi-structured interviews with a range of actors, written public submissions, and official reports, I identify these as pertinent factors and argue that the convergence of the economic interests of the organization and the deliberative empowerment of its affected public is critical. This examination serves constructively in helping us better understand a persistent gap between the theoretical aims and practical instantiations of deliberative democracy.

Résumé. Au cours des dernières années, les élites dirigeantes de la Société canadienne de gestion des déchets nucléaires, de la Nova Scotia Power Inc. et de la Société de logement communautaire de Toronto ont tenu des séances de consultation fondées sur les principes de la démocratie délibérative avec les membres concernés par leurs politiques. J'examine cinq facteurs qui peuvent nous aider à mieux comprendre pourquoi certains décideurs sont enclins à reconnaître un droit de regard aux membres touchés par leurs politiques. Ces facteurs peuvent être analysés en tant que caractéristiques des contextes particuliers de chaque politique concernée et incluent les dimensions liées aux principes normatifs, aux pressions publiques, au contenu des politiques, à la gestion stratégique des intérêts et aux enjeux économiques. À l'aide d'une étude comparative de cas comprenant des entretiens semi-dirigés avec divers acteurs, des soumissions publiques écrites et des rapports officiels, je présente ces dimensions à titre de facteurs pertinents et soutiens que la convergence des intérêts économiques des organisations et le pouvoir de délibération accordé au public concerné revêtent une importance cruciale. Cet examen se révèle constructif et nous aide à mieux comprendre le fossé persistant entre les finalités théoriques et la mise en pratique de la démocratie délibérative.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Genevieve Fuji Johnson, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby BC, CanadaV5A 1S6, Genevieve_Johnson@sfu.ca

References

Hide All
Adam, Miriam, TCHC Tenant. 2007. Interview with author, 13 August. Toronto.
Aikin, A. M., Harrison, J. M. and Hare, F. K.. 1977. The Management of Canada's Nuclear Wastes. Report of a study prepared under contract for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Canada. Ottawa: Government of Canada.
Andersen, Vibeke Normann and Hansen, Kasper M.. 2007. “How Deliberation Makes Better Citizens: The Danish Deliberative Poll on the Euro.” European Journal of Political Research 46: 531–56.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN). 2005. Nuclear Fuel Waste Dialogue: Phase II Regional Forums Summary Report. Ottawa: Nuclear Waste Management Organization.
Ballantyne, Derek, CEO, TCHC. 2007. Interview with author, 14 August. Toronto.
Barabas, Jason. 2004. “How Deliberation Affects Policy Opinions.” American Political Science Review 98 (4): 687701.
Benhabib, Seyla, ed. 1996. Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bohman, James and Rehg, William, eds. 1997. Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Canada. Parliament (37th). 2002. An Act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. Ottawa.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). 1998. Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept. Report of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
Chambers, Simone. 2003. “Deliberative Democratic Theory.” Annual Review of Political Science 6: 307–26.
CHU Employee. 2008. Interview with author, 24 June. Toronto.
CHU Manager #One. 2008. Interview with author, 14 May. Toronto.
CHU Manager #Four. 2008. Interview with author, 16 May. Toronto.
CHU Manager #Five. 2008. Interview with author, 16 May. Toronto.
Commentator, Nova Scotia. 2007. Interview with author, 20 June. Halifax.
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). 2005. Understanding the Choices: Summary of Key Observations Regarding NWMO Discussion. Document 2. Ottawa: CAP
Conover, Pamela Johnston and Searing, Donald D.. 2005. “Studying ‘Everyday Political Talk’ in the Deliberative System. Acta Politica 40: 336–50.
Cornwall, Andrea. 2008. “Deliberating Democracy: Scenes from a Brazilian Municipal Health Council.” Politics and Society 36 (4): 508–31.
Delli Carpini, Michael X., Cook, Fay Lomax and Jacobs, Lawrence R.. 2004. “Public Deliberation, Discursive Participation, and Citizen Engagement: A Review of the Empirical Literature.” Annual Review of Political Science 7: 315–44.
Dowdeswell, Elizabeth, President, NWMO. 2005. Interview with author, 6 June. Toronto.
DPRA 2004. Final Report: National Stakeholders and Regional Dialogue Sessions. Toronto: NWMO.
Dryzek, John. 2000. Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, and Contestations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Elster, Jon. 1998. Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Employee #One, NSP. 2007. Interview with author, 11 June. Halifax.
Employee #Two, NSP. 2008. Interview with author, 21 May. Halifax.
Employee #Three, NSP. 2008. Interview with author, 22 May. Halifax.
Employee, Assembly of First Nations. 2005. Interview with author, 13 October. Ottawa.
Employee, Conserve Nova Scotia. 2007. Interview with author, 12 June. Halifax.
Employee, Nova Scotia Department of Energy. 2008. Interview with author, 22 May. Halifax.
Employee, Nuclear Waste Management Organization. 2005. Interview with author, 6 June and 30 September. Toronto.
Employee, TCHC. 2008. Interview with author, 25 June. Toronto.
Employee, TCHC Management. 2008. Interview with author, 15 May. Toronto.
Fishkin, James and Luskin, Robert. 2006. “Broadcasts of Deliberative Polls: Aspirations and Effects.” British Journal of Political Science 36 (1): 184–88.
Former TCHC Board Member. 2007. Interview with author, 13 August. Toronto.
Freeman, S. 2000. “Deliberative Democracy: A Sympathetic Comment.” Philosophy of Public Affairs 29 (4): 370418
Fung, Archon. 2003. “Deliberative Democracy, Chicago Style: Grass-roots Governance in Policing and Public Education.” In Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Government, ed. Fung, Archon and Wright, Erik Olin. London: Verso.
Fung, Archon and Wright, Erik Olin. 2001. “Deepening Democracy: Innovations in Empowered Local Governance.” Politics and Society 29 (1): 541.
Fung, Archon and Wright, Erik Olin. 2003. Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Government. London: Verso.
Gastil, John and Levine, Peter, eds. 2005. The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the 21st Century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Goodin, Robert E. and Dryzek, John S.. 2006. “Deliberative Impacts: The Macro-Political Uptake of Mini-Publics.” Politics and Society 34 (2): 219–44.
Gutmann, Amy and Thompson, Dennis. 1996. Democracy and Disagreement: Why Moral Conflict Cannot Be Avoided in Politics, and What Should Be Done about It. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Gutmann, Amy and Thompson, Dennis. 2004. Why Deliberative Democracy? Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1995. “Discourse Ethics.” In Moral Consciousness and Communication Action, Habermas, J., trans. Lenhardt, Christian and Nicholsen, Shierry Weber. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Haley, Brendan, Ecology Action Centre, Energy Co-ordinator. 2007. Interview with author, 12 June. Halifax.
Haley, Brendan, Ecology Action Centre, Energy Co-ordinator. 2008. Interview with author, 22 May. Halifax.
Hamlett, Patrick W. and Cobb, Michael D.. 2006. “Potential Solutions to Public Deliberation Problems: Structured Deliberations and Polarization Cascades.” The Policy Studies Journal 34 (4): 629–48.
Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited. 2005. Final Report: National Stakeholders and Regional Dialogue Sessions. Toronto: NWMO.
Hendriks, Carolyn M. 2006a. “Integrated Deliberation: Reconciling Civil Society's Dual Role in Deliberative Democracy.” Political Studies 54 (3): 486508.
Hendriks, Carolyn M. 2006b. “When the Forum Meets Interest Politics: Strategic Uses of Public Deliberation.” Politics & Society 34 (4): 571602.
Jackman, Simon and Sniderman, Paul M.. 2006. “The Limits of Deliberative Discussion: A Model of Everyday Political Arguments.” Journal of Politics 68: 272–83.
Johnson, Gail. TCHC Community Health Consultant. 2008. Interview with author, 15 May. Toronto.
Johnson, Genevieve Fuji. 2007. “The Discourse of Democracy in Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Policy.” Policy Sciences 40: 7999.
Johnson, Genevieve Fuji. 2008. Deliberative Democracy for the Future: The Case of Nuclear Waste Management in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Johnson, Genevieve Fuji. 2009a. “Deliberative Democratic Practices in Canada: An Analysis of Institutional Empowerment in Three Cases.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 42 (3): 679703.
Johnson, Genevieve Fuji . 2009b. “The Darker Side of Deliberative Democracy: The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization's National Consultation Process.” In Nuclear Waste Management in Canada: Critical Issues, Critical Perspectives, ed. Durrant, Darrin and Johnson, Genevieve Fuji. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Kraljevic, John, CHU Management. 2008. Interview with author, 15 May. Toronto.
Lerner, Josh and Van Wagner, Estair. 2006. Participatory Budgeting in Canada: Democratic Innovations in Strategic Spaces. Transnational Institute.
Leslie, Megan, community legal worker, Dalhousie Legal Aid. 2007. Telephone interview with author, 20 August. Halifax.
Lipp, Judith, Ecology Action Centre, Consultant on Energy Issues. 2007. Interview with author, 17 June. Halifax.
Lipp, Judith. Ecology Action Centre, Consultant on Energy Issues. 2008. Interview with author, 16 May. Halifax.
Macedo, S. 1999. Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Maginn, Paul J. 2007. “Deliberative Democracy or Discursively Biased? Perth's Dialogue with the City Initiative.” Space and Polity 11 (3): 331–52.
McGregor, Lori, CHU tenant representative. 2008. Interview with author, 24 June. Toronto.
McKendry, Pat, TCHC Tenant. 2008. Interview with author, 25 June. Toronto.
Milton, Penny, former TCHC board member. 2008. Interview with author, 14 May. Toronto.
Niemeyer, Simon and Dryzek, John S.. 2007. “The Ends of Deliberation: Meta-consensus and Inter-subjective Rationality as Ideal Outcomes.” Swiss Political Science Review 13 (4): 497526.
Nova Scotia Department of Energy. 2007. Renewable Energy Standard.
Nova Scotia Power (NSP). 2004. Customer Energy Forum 2004: Final report. Halifax.
Nova Scotia Power (NSP). 2005. “Nova Scotia Power Acts on Customer Advice, Proposes $5 Million More for Conservation.” News release. Halifax. June 28.
Nova Scotia Power (NSP). 2007. “Largest Investment in Electricity Generation Since 1992.” News release. Halifax. 19 November.
Nova Scotia Power (NSP). 2008. “Nova Scotia Power Proposes Conservation and Energy Efficiency Plan.” News release. Halifax. January 31.
Nova Scotia Power (NSP). 2009. Backgrounder on Key Renewable Milestones. Halifax.
Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. 2006. Application by Nova Scotia Power Incorporated for approval of certain revisions to its rates, charges, and regulations.
Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). 2005. Choosing a Way Forward: The Future Management of Canada's Used Nuclear Fuel. Toronto.
Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). 2009. Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2009–2013. Toronto.
Papadopoulos, Yannis and Warin, Philippe. 2007. “Are innovative, participatory and deliberative procedures in policy making democratic and effective?European Journal of Political Research 46: 445–72.
Ryfe, David. M. 2005. “Does Deliberative Democracy Work?Annual Review of Political Science 8: 4971.
Simpson, Wally, TCHC tenant representative. 2008. Interview with author, 25 June. Toronto.
Souza, Selina. 2007. “Local Democratization in Brazil: Strengths and Dilemmas of Deliberative Democracy.” Development 50 (1): 9095.
Stratos. 2005. Dialogue on Choosing a Way Forward: The NWMO Draft Study Report. Summary report. Toronto: NWMO.
TCHC Tenant Representative #One. 2008. Interview with author, 18 June. Toronto.
TCHC Tenant Representative #Two. 2008. Interview with author, 18 June. Toronto.
Thompson, Dennis. 2008. “Deliberative Democratic Theory and Empirical Political Science.” Annual Review of Political Science 11: 497520.
Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). 2002. “Community (Based) Business Planning Process.”
Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). 2003. “Participatory Planning and Budgeting–our own story.” Paper presented at the Lifelong Citizenship Learning, Participatory Democracy, and Social Change Conference, Toronto.
Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). 2005. Community Management Plan 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Trudeau Foundation and Sierra Club of Canada. 2005. “Roundtable Discussion on Nuclear Waste Management.” Toronto.
Tucker, Aviezer. 2008. “Pre-emptive Democracy: Oligarchic Tendencies in Deliberative Democracy.” Political Studies 56 (1): 127–47.
Valadez, JM. 2001. Deliberative Democracy: Political Legitimacy and Self-Determination in Multicultural Societies. Boulder CO: Westview.
Wagenaar, Hendrik. 2006. “Democracy and Prostitution: Deliberating the Legalization of Brothels in the Netherlands.” Administration and Society 38 (2): 198235.
Ward, Ian. 2008. “An Experiment in Political Communication: The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.” Australian Journal of Political Science 43 (2): 301–15.
Warren, Mark and Pearse, Hilary. 2008. Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Young, I. M. 1999. “Justice, Inclusion, and Deliberative Democracy” Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement, ed. Macedo, S.. New York: Oxford University Press. 151–58.

The Limits of Deliberative Democracy and Empowerment: Elite Motivation in Three Canadian Cases

  • Genevieve Fuji Johnson (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed