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Playing Defence: Early Responses to Conflict Expansion in the Oil Sands Policy Subsystem

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This article examines how powerful policy actors defend themselves against opponents' strategies of conflict expansion through a case study of the Alberta oil sands subsystem. In response to changes in the key issues surrounding the oil sands subsystem, the provincial government along with industry have pursued a strategy of engaging in several multistakeholder consultations. We argue that in examining subsystem change, it is essential to go beyond an analysis of formal institutional mechanisms to examine policy impact. Thus far, despite a significant pluralisation of consultative mechanisms on the oil sands, there is little or no evidence of a shift in power away from pro-oil sands interests. This strategy of selective opening is designed to bolster the legitimacy of the policy process while maintaining control over decision-making, rules and venues.

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  • 01/02/2019
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  • 10-002
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