Neoliberalism, P3s, and the Canadian Municipal Water Sector

How to Cite

Lang, M. (2016). Neoliberalism, P3s, and the Canadian Municipal Water Sector: A Political-Economic Analysis of this "Post-Political" Waterscape. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 7(2), 19–31.


In this paper I consider how the increase of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in Canada now threatens the autonomy of municipal water services. P3s have gained traction since the 1990s as a mechanism of private alternative service delivery that replace traditional public provision. Over the past decade, P3s have been actively promoted by the state via quasi-government agencies such as Public-Private Partnerships Canada (PPP Canada), yet their results have been markedly poor. Nevertheless, P3s are now being situated as a key mechanism in the neoliberal (re)regulation of public services, regardless of their shortcomings and inequities. With this in mind, I frame recent Federal policy changes concerning the funding of local water infrastructure and services and their implementation through such agencies as PPP Canada as expressions of post-political governance in Canada. I argue that the capacity for local decision-making concerning this integral social and ecological service is being overwhelmed by a technocratic, expert-driven political process that is contingent on the hegemony of economic austerity to institute municipal water privatization, free from democratic accountability.





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