Major Papers


Climate Change, Canadian Politics, Common Sense, National Identity, Ontario Wind Energy, Alberta Oilsands


Despite the growing global consensus on the need for action to combat climate change, transitions to more sustainable practices will not be simple. This is especially true in the case of Canada which is a) country that has increasingly relied on its fossil fuel sector as a primary driver of economic growth, and b) a federal state where the division of power over the energy and resource sectors are shared between the federal and provincial governments. Further complicating this is Canada’s long history of natural resource extraction and its connection to Canadian national identity. After a decade of assertive support for the oil sector by the federal Conservative Party, the Liberal Party won a majority government partly due to promises to take meaningful climate action. However, despite these promises the Liberals have continued to wholeheartedly back the industry centred in the Alberta oil sands, and attempts to balance climate action with support for the oil industry has seen the balance swing heavily in favour of the latter. The ability of the oil industry and its allies in civil society to equate it with Canadian national identity and ‘common sense’ has entrenched its hegemony in the Canadian economy. In Ontario, the policies of a clean energy transition primarily via wind energy initiated by former Premier Dalton McGuinty have been successfully challenged by opposition at both the municipal and provincial level. One of the major obstacles has been that wind energy projects clash with, rather than fit into, ideas of rurality and what Canada is. These case studies highlight the challenges involved in green transitions, particularly in locations where natural resource extraction has historically been a central component of national identity and the national economy.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Jesse Salah Ovadia

Program Reader

Dr. Rebecca Major

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year