Affirmative Action and Employment Equity: Policy, Ideology, and Backlash in Canadian Context

Abigail B. Bakan, Audrey Kobayashi

Abstract


Abigail B. Bakan and Audrey Kobayashi take up the issue of “backlash” in “Affirmative Action and Employment Equity: Policy, Ideology, and Backlash in Canadian Context.” But where most studies examine the social forces orchestrating backlash, Bakan and Kobayashi consider the ways in which policymakers, including those on the “Left,” respond to and make room for the politics of backlash. In their case study of “employment equity,” Bakan and Kobayashi explore how policymakers abandoned “affirmative action” in favour of “employment equity” in response to an anticipated backlash. Drawing on interviews with policymakers involved in the Abella Report and the Rae NDP government in Ontario, Bakan and Kobayashi argue that the fear of backlash was a central, though often overlooked, factor in shaping employment equity in Canada. The result was that important social policy objectives were abandoned early in the policymaking process. Their study is a timely indicator of the need to consider how and to what extent the politics of backlash may be indirectly shaping public policy in Canada.

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Studies in Political Economy:
Online ISSN 1918-7033
Print ISSN 0707-8552