The political economy of northern development : governments and the capital along Manitoba's resource frontier, 1870-1930
Mochoruk, James David,
This dissertation examines the political and economic aspects of the development of Manitoba's northern frontier from 1870 to 1930. The central thesis is that the state, be it the Imperial, Dominion or Provincial government, gave capitalists virtual carte blanche to 'develop' the resources of the northern frontier. Regardless of the impact of such development upon natives, white workers, the land itself and future generations of Manitobans and Canadians, the state actively aided and subsidised capital in its exploitation of frontier resources, primarily for short-term political benefits. Through a detailed analysis of the political and economic arrangements which facilitated resource development along this shifting frontier, this study also demonstrates that there was iittle difference in the attitudes or actions of various levels of government towards the north. Despite a certain amount of rhetoric concerning the north and northerners, most southern politicians had little interest in the region until entrepreneurs sought to harvest its resources. Hence Governments took a passive and then a reactive role, ignoring the north and the problems of its people if there was no immediate entrepreneurial interest in the region and then throwing it open to development with few restrictions as soon as any business group expressed interest. Because it was the Dominion which had legal control of these resources until 1930 and political control over most of the region until 1912, it has often been assumed that it was solely the Dominion's fault for any mistakes that were made in setting resource policy, for failinq to protect the rights of northerners and for granting concessions to capital. As this work argues, however, Manitoba and its political leaders must share the blame for what happened to Manitoba's northern resources and peoples. both by virtue of the cynical political games that they played with Ottawa until 1930 and because of the role that Manitoba's government played in setting resource policy and negotiating the transfer of natural resources in the 1920's. Indeed, one of this work's more contentious conclusions is that Manitoba's political leadership performed so poorly during the 1920's that the province would actually have been better off if it had not won beneficial control over its own resources in 1930.