Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saskatchewan as a Resource Hinterland Economy

By John W. Warnock
Resources, Empire and Labour: Globalization and Alternatives
Laurentian University

Saskatchewan has always been seen as a hinterland area and economy within the Canadian territorial state. Geographically, it is part of the interior plains of the North American continent. Prior to the European colonial invasion it was the home to indigenous peoples who had adapted to the local ecology and survived mainly as hunter gatherer communities. From the Missouri River on south, the indigenous populations had introduced a highly developed agricultural economy. But in the harsher northern areas of the plains, agriculture was very limited.

For most political economists and geographers, the National Policy of John A. Macdonald’s government really began with Confederation, the development of a nation state and a national economy. Vernon Fowke stressed that it was a capital accumulation project: the creation of a national market, the population of the west by white settlers from Europe, the development of the wheat economy for export, and the protection of industrial capitalism in central Canada. Behind a tariff wall, an economic surplus could be extracted from independent commodity producers via banking and finance and the monopoly power of the farm supply industry and the downstream processing and distribution industries. This system of political economy became the primary Canadian example of metropolitan domination of hinterland areas.

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