While functional thinkers emphasize the impact that external forces have on patterns of agenda- setting and public policy, recent experiences in Eastern Canada and New England discussed in this paper shed light on the power of embedded processes and mechanisms to inhibit the transformation of dominant ideas, even when interdependency is increasing. Leadership matters a great deal, as do inherited state-societal structures and processes that determine the possibilities for creating new patterns of discourse, policy practice, and integration and interaction.
Regionalization not only lacks institutional support, but governors have gone out of their way to restrict new regional transformations and formations across state and provincial boundaries. They have also acted to suppress information in a way that has undermined and constrained opportunities to bring different interests together and improve regional governance. Premiers appear to have been bystanders in all of this, but they have also played their role in a new competitive regional game. Canadian provinces are highly competitive when it comes to the energy sector. There is little evidence of collaboration, shared objectives, or integration.
Despite challenges of interdependence, and the need to work together to solve energy and other problems, internal political conditions and territorial-institutional configurations have trumped functional logic. Political party competition and partisan differences across New England have madeit difficult tobring dissimilar interests together, share information, and find Ivays to devise common objectives across systems. Strikingly, all of this has occurred with limited public knowledge or engagement. In Canada, the strong tradition of province-building has continued but expanded south. Premiers have restricted public engagement and information. They have also maintained control over the development process and discouraged new formations and transformations across provinces and states. Much of this has involved "leaving it to government elites and experts in utilities to work out" rather than providing opportunities for sharing public knowledge and information in a way that might strengthen cross-border identities and discourses.
We have found that embedded institutions and governance traditions continue to play a crucial role in determining the pace and direction of regional transformation and restructuring. Nothing is inevitable. Despite challenges of interdependence, creating new ways for reinventing regional governance ultimately depends on political conditions and institutional configurations that permit good regional solutions also to serve as good politics. Functionalism is not enough, and there needs to be more discussion and understanding of the role of institutions and what the public cannot see.
OATT arrangement. While FERC is focused on fostering competition in US wholesale markets, the utter rejection of both open-access principle and the notion of wholesale market competition by the NL government will make selling into the U.S. difficult if not impossible." James Feehan, PhD, "Electricity Market Integration: Newfoundland Chooses Monopoly and Protectionism." Atlantic Institute of Market Studies: Commentary. November 2013.
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