The Federal Task Force on Housing and Urban Development and the Limits of Participatory Democracy, 1968-1969
Gemmell, Brendan Nicholas
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The 1969 Report of Task Force on Housing and Urban Development marks a point of intersection between Canadian housing policy and the participatory democracy movement of the 1960s. While the Task Force was announced during Trudeaumania – a movement in participatory politics that swept Pierre Elliott Trudeau into office as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada – it sought to fix problems in Canadian housing policy that had existed for over three decades. Following an extensive Canada-wide public consultation, Transport Minister Paul Hellyer presented the Report to Cabinet where it faced inhibiting criticism, resulting in Hellyer’s resignation in April 1969. This thesis describes the recurring themes of Canadian housing policy from 1935-1969 and traces the growth of public engagement and participatory democracy within the same period. I propose a four-part breakdown of types of participatory democracy: liberal, deliberative, radical, and revolutionary participatory democracy. Following an archival analysis of Task Force submissions from Toronto and Winnipeg, I argue that Hellyer’s Task Force blended the liberal and deliberative types of participatory democracy. Identifying participatory democracy sub-types helps to identify differences in the political approaches of Paul Hellyer and Pierre Elliott Trudeau; in turn, Trudeau’s and Hellyer’s differences explain, in part, the negative response the Report received and Hellyer’s eventual resignation.