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Streams of Oil and Barrels of Conflict: An MSF Analysis of Canadian Energy Policy since the Failure of the National Energy Program

Canadian policy on environmental protectionism has shifted under the Trudeau government, in line with signing onto the Paris Climate, breaking with the previous governments’ passivity towards climate change. However, the new Government’s stance appears muddled. Though Transmountain expansion was approved, Northern Gateway Pipeline was rejected. This policy change shows that the Trudeau government aims for a more environmental-economic balanced approach. I ask how this shift happened? I analyse Canadian energy policy from 1980-2015 using Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to demonstrate why previous governments have prioritised economic growth over environmental protectionism since the failure of the National Energy Program. There are two competing dialogues in Canadian energy policy: neoliberalism and securitisation. During the time-period analysed, neoliberalism has won over securitisation because economic growth was prioritised by stakeholders. As the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption becomes more concrete and irrefutable, new stakeholders have found their voice in the energy policy debate.
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