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Biography & Autobiography Political

Retiring the Crow Rate

A Narrative of Political Management

by (author) Arthur Kroeger

afterword by John Fraser

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
May 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2009
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"The Holy Crow".... How do you change one of Canada's most politically sensitive policies? Retiring the Crow Rate is an exacting study in the process of changing an entrenched public policy that many in the West saw as their birthright. It is also a rewarding work of memoir and a tribute to Jean-Luc Pepin's prowess as an engaging politician. Arthur Kroeger's deft narration of the events which led to the end of the "The Crow" in the early 1980s also reveals his character as an exemplary public servant. Political scientists and students, western historians, politically engaged Canadians, and those who fondly remember Arthur Kroeger as Canada's 'dean of deputy ministers' will want Retiring the Crow Rate on their bookshelves.

About the authors

Arthur Kroeger had a 34-year career in the federal public service, half of it spent serving as a deputy minister. After graduating from the University of Alberta, he studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Following his years in government, he taught at several Canadian universities, and served as chancellor at Carleton University. Arthur Kroeger was a resident of Ottawa until his death in 2008.

Arthur Kroeger's profile page

John Fraser, CM, is a Canadian journalist, author, and academic, who has served as Master of Massey College at University of Toronto since 1995. As a journalist, he has received multiple national awards, and his work has been published in many of the leading international newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Maclean’s, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Paris Match, and New Republic. He is the author of six works of nonfiction and one novel. In 2011, he was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. John lives in Toronto.

John Fraser's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The book is really a story of political and public negotiation and participation, a multi-year process of openness, transparency and results that present-day governments could well learn from. There were all the obvious interests: rampant regionalism and a distrust of Ottawa and central Canada; provincial governments of similar and different political stripes than the federal government; special Western interests that were divided between those who were prepared to consider change and those who refused to countenance it; and political intrigue at the federal level as the Minister was regularly undercut by Western Liberal party colleagues at the Cabinet table and in the Senate." Toby Fyfe, IT in Canada, January 6, 2010 [full review at]"

"The Crow rate, begun with the 1897 Crow's Nest Pass Agreement, was a freight subsidy imposed on the Canadian railways for the benefit of farmers and manufacturers in Western Canada that was finally ended in 1995 after years of debate and negotiations between the federal government, western stakeholders, and the railways. Having served in the Canadian federal government as a deputy minister in Transport (and other ministries) during much of the period of debate, the late Kroeger narrates these events of the Crow reform process, calling it a process of 'political management.'" Reference and Research Book News, August 2010

"It was the Crowsnest Pass Agreement in 1897 between the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the federal government that came to establish the freight rate structure for export grain. When the rates were made statutory in 1925 they remained fixed until 1983.... It is the story of how the Crow Rate was changed that Arthur Kroeger recounts in this informative, entertaining, and often humorous book.... Kroeger offers readers insight into the inner workings of government where a new policy is being developed and new legislation enacted. His narrative provides an understanding of the people involved, and the political, social, and economic culture of this part of the Great Plains." Gary Storey, Great Plains Research, Vol. 20, No. 2., 2010

"As Deputy Minister of Transport, the author was actively involved in negotiations to dump the beloved Crow Rate that for many years had proven of benefit to western Canada..As time went on, the Crow Rate became sacred to the western Canada farmer, but after World War II, rising costs made it almost impossible for the railway to find it financially viable....This book examines the process, beginning in 1980, whereby the Federal government shed itself of the rate....The account, as told by the author, is fascinating because he is part of the story, in fact, a major part. The book is detailed and complex in places but is well written and worth the read." Alberta History, Spring 2010

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