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Varieties of Capital Cities

The Competitiveness Challenge for Secondary Capitals

David Kaufmann

The political and symbolic centrality of capital cities has been challenged by increasing economic globalization. This is especially true of secondary capital cities; capital cities which, while being the seat of national political power, are not the primary economic city of their nation state. David Kaufmann examines the unique challenges that these cities face entering globalised, inter-urban competition while not possessing a competitive political economy.
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Chapter 5: Ottawa: the fragmented city

David Kaufmann


The sub-arctic farming and lumber town of Ottawa was named the Canadian capital city in 1859. Since then, Ottawa has experienced an impressive development from a small town to a modern city due to the federal administration. The capital city metropolitan region is located on the politically and symbolically charged border between Ontario and Quebec. The locational policies agenda of Ottawa tries to simultaneously position Ottawa as a government city and as a business city. This dichotomy reflects that Ottawa is indeed a fragmented city. The metropolitan region is fragmented between the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, the different economic sectors being divided between the government sector and the export-oriented high-tech sector, and also between the high-tech sectors in Kanata and Downtown. City officials play an active role in the formulation and implementation of locational policies.

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