Darcy Ingram, “Governments, Governance, and the “Lunatic Fringe”: The Resources for Tomorrow Conference and the Evolution of Environmentalism in Canada,” International Journal of Canadian Studies 51 (2015): 69-96.

Abstract

Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have long played an important role in the evolution of environmentalism and environmental governance in Canada. Using the groundbreaking 1961 Resources for Tomorrow Conference as its entry point, this article explores the contributions made by such organizations to this federally initiated conference in light of their work during previous decades; their relationship to the Canadian state and to the evolution of its environmental institutions; and the ways in which the conference became a conduit for frustrations that further galvanized the NGO community, leading to the formation of some of the most influential environmental organizations in Canada today. In doing so, the article challenges current historiographic and theoretical frameworks that distinguish a unique ‘‘modern’’ or second-wave environmental movement associated with Rachel Carson, the baby boom generation, and the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and 1970s from an earlier period of conservation-oriented activity ending roughly in 1920 and that make light of the period between. As such, it makes the case for a considerable degree of continuity within the movement over the long term, for the importance of collaborative efforts between the state and the NGO sector, and for the centrality in NGO circles not of radicalism but of relatively conventional attitudes, practices, and social movement strategies.