In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 4n tives. Thus, the future of the national community depends on future relations between the West and Quebec. (Did not Henri Bourassa say something much like that a hundred years ago?) Western provinces have tried to position themselves relative to Quebec and Quebec's influence in Ottawa. As Quebec goes so go we all. What then of the future? Or what then of regionalism? Ironically, it is regional pressure that now poses the greatest threat. Radical decentralization, driven by Quebec (but also by Ontario and Alberta), will gut the ability of the central government to provide national leadership and maintain national standards. According to the authors, if Quebec leaves, the West will not remain a unit. It will simply dissolve. Read it and weep. J.E. REA University of Manitoba The Politics of Power: Ontario Hydro and Its Government, 1906-1995. NEIL B. FREEMAN. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1996. Pp. xii, 252, $55.00 cloth, $18.95 paper Ontario Hydro is a major institutional innovation in Canadian history. It has been, at different times, the largest corporation in Canada, the largest public utility in the world, and the only large, regional public electricity utility in North America. This book by Neil Freeman is an excellent contribution to the governance history of Ontario Hydro, a history where much is known and written. Freeman, however, who first wrote this project as a doctoral dissertation in political science, makes valuable new contributions through detailed historical research and interviews with many key players. He places his findings within the theoretical frameworks ofmodern political science, focusing mainly on the postwar boom years of 1945-73, but with considerable detail and insight into the earlier years and less on recent times. The book is important as a case study in the growth of the managerially hierarchical corporation of the twentieth century, and as an examination of a corporation that is woven deeply into the fabric of Ontario society. It is timely, given the two ideologies currently fighting it out on the battlefields of Ontario public policy. On one side, the idea to reintroduce private sector competition in providing electricity in Ontario through privatization of all or part of the corporation, and, on the other, the notion spearheaded by the Ontario Hydro unions that the corporation should complete its monopoly by taking over power distribution from the municipalities. Freeman's primary thesis is that the history of the governance of Hydro, with its perennially ambiguous relationship with the provincial 412 The Canadian Historical Review government, is an example of Carolyn Tuohy's 'institutionalized ambivalence ' of Canadian policy and politics. It was founding chairman Adam Beck who almost single-handedly created the corporation's public monopoly by 1925, and, by promoting the notion of the Hydro as a municipal cooperative, secured its corporate autonomy from government . Freeman, however, discovers two perhaps more fundamental organizational innovations at Hydro that stemmed from such institutionalized ambivalence. The first is what he calls the Ferguson formula on governance appointments. Introduced in the 1920s, this decision stipulated that Hydro would be governed through the appointment of a triad of commission representatives: a non-partisan chairman, a government representative, and a municipal association representative. Freeman sees this elite stakeholder accommodation as a 'masterstroke in political management.' The second innovation, developed later in the postwar boom years, was the splitting of governance between the non-partisan chairman, as chief executive officer, to look outwards at the big policy pictures in liaison with the government, and a general manager, as chief operating officer, to look inwards at professional, managerial, and technical affairs. With these officers standing back to back and with the commission acting as the non-managerial buffer between the government and the Hydro management, this model allowed government influence in policy decisions without government interference in management affairs. Of course, greater government control in management came later, de facto if not de Jure, with the development of the nuclear program and the replacement of the commission by a board of directors reporting to the minister of energy. But the institutionalized ambivalence remained in the relationship between Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Energy Board, a relationship that involves, strangely enough, the external...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 411-413
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.