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International Handbook on Privatization

Edited by David Parker and David Saal

Privatization has dominated industrial restructuring programs since the 1980s and continues to do so. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers all aspects of this key issue, including: the theory of privatization; privatization in transition, developed and developing economies; as well the economic regulation of privatized industries.
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Chapter 7: Privatization in North America

Anthony E. Boardman, Claude Laurin and Aidan R. Vining


Anthony E. Boardman, Claude Laurin and Aidan R. Vining Introduction1 At the beginning of the 1980s, Canada and the United States represented the extremes of state ownership in developed, industrial countries. Canada, like many Western European nations and Japan, had developed an extensive panoply of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). These organizations, which were called Crown Corporations in Canada, permeated the economy, most prominently in transport, natural resource development, and energy production and development, but also in many other sectors (Trebilcock, 1999). Indeed, state ownership was more extensive in Canada than in many other countries, taking into consideration Provincial Crown Corporations in addition to Federal Crown Corporations (Vining and Botterell, 1983). The USA, in contrast, had a much less extensive state-owned sector than other developed industrial nations. In spite of this, there has been, and still is, a degree of government ownership in the economy (see Chapter 9 for an example). Much of this ownership centred on government involvement in hydroelectric power development during the ‘New Deal’, as exemplified by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration. In addition, government expropriations of enemy-controlled corporations during and following the Second World War resulted in the (short-run) creation of a number of SOEs and mixed enterprises. Over the last 20 years, there has been extensive privatization in Canada and some in the USA. A major purpose of this chapter is to provide summary information about the major privatizations in both countries. Many Canadian privatizations have been controversial (Jörgensen et...

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