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The Long Road Toward Influence: Canada as an American Interest Group

Leslie R. Alm

Abstract


In reading the literature about Canada-U.S. environmental relations with respect to acid deposition over the past decade, several things stand out. First, underlying these interactions is the daunting aspect (for the Canadians) that the relationship is based upon dependency and asymmetry. As Stephen Clarkson (1985), John Carroll (1982, 1986), and Don Munton (1981) have so often pointed out, factors such as the total emissions of pollutants, meteorology, the prevailing weather, geology, and the varying capacity of the terrain to neutralize damage have established a multidimensional problem whereby the U.S. benefits much less from Canadian actions than Canada does from American actions.

Second, Canada used a multifaceted foreign policy approach in hopes of gaining its single most important environmental policy objective - U.S. reductions in emissions which are the primary cause of transboundary flows of acid pollutants. At one time or another, Canada attempted to influence U.S. policy decisions through quiet diplomacy (formal diplomatic avenues), interventionist public diplomacy (going public), international diplomacy (agreements and conferences), personal diplomacy (interactions between the Prime Minister and the President), and strengthening its own domestic environmental programs (Munton and Castle 1992:322-327).

Third, Canada went far beyond its normal diplomatic activities and directly intervened in the American political process. Disregarding a long tradition of non-interference in U.S. domestic policy making, Canada (at both the national and provincial levels) extended its efforts to directly lobby the American public, media, non-governmental organizations and Congress. In essence, Canada resorted to a lobbying effort clearly in line with any other U.S. lobby. This effort was not only substantial [millions of dollars were spent (Spears 1990:C6)], it was clearly out of line with what Canadians hd previously perceived as normal behaviour in the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship (Munton and Castle 1992:322).

The purpose of this particular case study is to examine these Canadian efforts to influence the development of U.S. acid rain policy, with an emphasis on the lobbying process. Specifically, it looks at efforts by Canada to directly influence members fo the U.S. Congress. The idea is not only to provide insight into how and why Canada approached this effort, but also to provide a reading of what impact this effort had.


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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229

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