From Protection to Coordinated Preparedness: A Genealogy of Vital Systems in Canada

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Philip BOYLE, University of Waterloo, Canada
This article provides a genealogy of the governance of vital systems in Canada. It focuses in particular on a largely unknown and unexamined civil defense initiative introduced during World War II that sought to count, categorize, and, under emergency conditions, directly protect what were then known as ‘vital points’ from sabotage. The analysis recounts major episodes and turnings points in the deployment of this organizational apparatus by the various institutions responsible for civil defence and emergency management in which it was embedded. The latter sections of the article shows how efforts to adapt this apparatus for a new federal emergency management landscape failed at the precise moment that new concerns associated with critical infrastructure were emerging. The final section shows how federal planners assembled the new strategy of ‘coordinated preparedness’ through which the longstanding emergency power derived from Canada’s commitment to peace, order, and good government could be exercised.