Engineering equal opportunity: technocracy and modernity in New Brunswick during the long 1960s

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University of New Brunswick


The Program of Equal Opportunity (EO) marked a period of wide-reaching reform in New Brunswick for the areas of local government, education, health, social welfare, as well as province’s court and jail system during the Long 1960s. The province was considered by many observers to be the “social laboratory” of Canada. Devised by the government of Louis Robichaud, EO was entrenched by the Acadian premier’s immediate successor Richard Hatfield. While consistent with the literature, this project is more forceful in its assertion that the two governments constituted one policy regime. New Brunswick flirted with government by technocracy at mid-century. These technocrats, actually a cadre of officials, consultants, and bureaucrats from a wide variety of backgrounds, espoused the tenets of high and low modernism in an effort to engineer a modern polity. They provided the main bridge between the two administrations. By applying this framework and engaging with a broad literature, a nuanced account of social change in the province is revealed. Technocrats and government officials looked out and looked within the province and ultimately brought top-down change to New Brunswick during the era of Equal Opportunity.