Cows in the city: Canadian dairy farmer protests in Ottawa

Percy, Paige (2023) Cows in the city: Canadian dairy farmer protests in Ottawa. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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It is not very often that you see a cow or tractor in downtown Ottawa, in front of the home of the Canadian Federal Government. However, this has happened in both 2015 and 2016 in response to international trade agreements. This study explores different factors impacting dairy farmers decisions to protest international trade agreements in Ottawa. The theoretical foundation for this research is political opportunity theory, which is further expanded by the complementary theories of multi-institutional politics perspective and resource mobilization theory. The theoretical approach is deepened through exploring the rich history of Canadian dairy and how that history informs dairy farmers material and non-material interests when understanding international trade agreements. The study uses qualitative methods of semi-structured interviews and life history interviews over two months of data collection, which in turn centred the voices and perspectives of dairy farmers. Moreover, these methods were enriched through the use of visual ethnography to elicit further emotions or perspectives from farmers through images of historic and current dairy protests. The study found that dairy farmers have concerns about the dairy industry, much of which tended to focus on their families, farms, and futures. Through the interviews, it was revealed that dairy farmers were strategic in the timing and choice to protest in Ottawa beyond location with sophisticated mobilization efforts. However, there is also significant tension the motivations for protesting and how dairy farmers interpreted the protests varied across all participants. Overall, the study concludes that protests in the future will need to adapt and change to reflect dairy farmers’ vulnerabilities that could be further exacerbated by tensions within policy priorities, protest choices, and popular opinion.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15976
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 137-155)
Keywords: dairy, protest, international trade, agriculture, supply management, Canada, Ontario, rural
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Science and the Environment > Environmental Policy Institute
Date: May 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: International trade--Canada--Ontario; Dairy farmers--Political activity--Canada--Ontario; Protest movements--Canada--Ontario--2015; Protest movements--Canada--Ontario--2016; Dairy products industry--Materials management--Canada--Ontario; Demonstrations--Canada--Ontario--2015; Demonstrations--Canada--Ontario--2016

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