Managing conflicts flexibly on a “welfare state” barometer

In addressing whether the Canadian “welfare state” model contributes to conflict resolution or exacerbate conflict, i would argue that Canada has been managing political conflicts flexibly on its “welfare state” barometer.

There is a consencanada-flagsus that government as the legitimate authority is “a set of institutions that make and enforce collective, public decisions for a society” (Dyck, p.5). These decisions – of different shape and forms – are perceived to be binding and necessary for the benefit of the society as a whole. They are anticipated to manage the “society-government” interactions if taken from a “Public Choice” and “State-centered” perspectives; as well as the “society-society” dynamics and expectations – if considered from a “Pluralism” and “Class Analysis” perspectives.

These decisions and policies are largely influenced by internal “cleavages” driven by a wide spectrum of social, economic, political and cultural dynamics and issues, as well as external factors such as globalization, international commitments, and global events and shifts of power, among others. They are dynamics and subject to change over time across the political and demographic spectrum of preferences and priorities.

Challenged with escalating and sometimes competing citizen’s demands, authorities might not be able to accommodate the various issues raised. This may contribute to widening the political divide among the various social fabrics, hence erupting some level of conflict.

I would argue that the changing role of the Canadian state on the welfare state barometer is a reflection of the various forms of competing and conflicting factors influenced by changing internal and external pressures over time. In that sense, government policy evolved from mere regulation and overseeing of rights into concrete interventions with the “Great Depression”. It was then pushed further into service provision by the Keynesian post-1930 drive. Since then, I would argue Canada has managed conflicts flexibly within its adopted “welfare state policy” framework. This is illustrated by the swinging of the government policy between a Keynesian-advocated welfare state in the 1950s, to a more liberal model in the 1980s, and back to a welfare state –believed to be best fit to the post-2008 crisis. (to be continued…)

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