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The politics of managing land registries: A case study analysis of accessing land titles in the Canadian prairie provinces

Authors: Laura Funk*,
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Land administration; farmland; agriculture; political economy
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Accessing land titling data is critical for researchers who are studying changing patterns of farmland ownership. Making this data accessible for public research helps ensure transparency and provides critical information to policy makers developing land legislation. In Canada, land registries are handled by provincial governments, some of whom have privatized the management of their land registries. Through a political economy approach, this paper examines the arguments for or against privatization and the problems this poses for public research. It also analyzes whether decisions regarding the privatization of land registries may be an extension of the financialization of farmland. Through a case study analysis, the paper compares the management of land registries across the three prairie provinces where over 70% of Canada’s agricultural land is located. I provide a comparison of the politics of land registries in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where land registries have been privatized, and Alberta, where the registry remains public. The paper is based on qualitative research collected through 20 semi-structured interviews with administrators, bureaucrats and researchers, and archival research.

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