Extractivism: The Harper Government’s Energy and Environment Policy


  • Trevor McPherson




This work focuses on the Harper government’s energy and environmental policy. Specifically, how environmental policy was designed primarily with the goal of facilitating their energy policy objective of maximizing resource extraction. I outline the evolution of the Harper government’s environmental policy throughout their tenure, which includes the use of ineffective and deceptively communicated legislation designed to give the impression of action, and the systematic dismantling of environmental regulation. Also, I explain the Harper government’s relationship with the resource extraction industry. Industry was given exceptional access to government, as they had substantial influence over policy and collaborated on communications strategy. The government also marginalized science, scientists, and environmentalists through defunding, muzzling, destruction of scientific records, and more. Finally, I examine the ideological underpinnings that inform these relationships and the rationality they construct. I will demonstrate that the Harper government’s neoliberal populist orientation characterized their dichotomous conception of economy and environment, and therefore their environmental and energy policies, and their relationship with perceived allies and adversaries. Ultimately, the Harper government’s efforts to maximize resource extraction through dismantling environmental regulation not only failed, but also obstructed their goal.




How to Cite

McPherson, T. (2016). Extractivism: The Harper Government’s Energy and Environment Policy. Political Science Undergraduate Review, 1(2), 5–14. https://doi.org/10.29173/psur14