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Canadian Parties in Transition, Third Edition

Canadian Parties in Transition, Third Edition

Alain-G. Gagnon
A. Brian Tanguay
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 574
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  • Book Info
    Canadian Parties in Transition, Third Edition
    Book Description:

    Alain-G. Gagnon and A. Brian Tanguay present a multi-faceted image of party dynamics, electoral behaviour, political marketing, and representative democracy, with chapters written by an outstanding team of political scientists.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0789-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Alain-G. Gagnon and A. Brian Tanguay

    Some of the most productive research on political parties in Canada during the past two decades has been generated by the idea that a number of distinct party systems have existed at the federal level since Confederation. According to Smith (1985), Carty (1988, 1995), Johnstonet al.(1992), Bickerton, Gagnon, and Smith (1999), and Carty, Cross, and Young (2000), there have been three successive party systems in the country since 1867, each with its own distinctive pattern of social support for the various parties, along with distinguishing patronage relationships, leadership styles, and electoral strategies. These political scientists do not necessarily...

  5. Part I: Origins and Evolution of the Canadian Party System

    • CHAPTER 1 The Beginning of Politics in Canada
      (pp. 17-32)
      Gordon T. Stewart

      When did politics get started in Canada? If we think of politics in the broadest sense — deciding on peace or war, negotiating power and status, making decisions about the shape of society, debating policy options, organizing economic strategies — then politics began as soon as people arrived in what is now Canada. By the 1500s, there were numerous Aboriginal peoples scattered across the Canadian landscape: the Haida, Tinglit, and Tsimishian on the Pacific slope; the Blackfoot, Plains Cree, Cree, and Assiniboine across the Prairies; the Hurons, Ojibwe, Algonquin, and Montagnais throughout Central Canada; the Micmac in the Maritimes; and...

    • CHAPTER 2 Piercing the Smokescreen: Stability and Change in Brokerage Politics
      (pp. 33-54)
      Janine Brodie and Jane Jenson

      The 1993 federal election marked an historic shake-up of traditional party politics in Canada. Federal politics had long reflected a consensus forged after the Great Depression of the 1930s, but after more than a decade of profound controversy about the very meaning of Canadian citizenship and the appropriate role for the state in the economy, that postwar consensus no longer exists. It has been eroded by contestation about the causes of and responses to prolonged recession (some would say depression), as well as about the strategy of continental economic integration and neo-liberal governing practices. Integral to this uncertainty has been...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Evolution of the Canadian Party System
      (pp. 55-82)
      Steve Patten

      Our capacity to study and appreciate the character of the Canadian party system is enhanced by historical analysis. To the casual observer it may appear that little has changed in Canadian party politics since the late nineteenth century. All the major parties have continuously been depicted as elite-dominated organizations that exist primarily to fight elections. The Liberal Party has so consistently won federal elections that it has often been referred to as Canada’s “natural governing party.” Despite ideological differences, the desire for electoral victory has continually drawn the major parties toward the ideological centre, offering more or less of the...

    • CHAPTER 4 Third Party Success in Canada
      (pp. 83-110)
      Éric Bélanger

      The variability and durability of third parties have become traditional characteristics of Canadian party politics.¹ This is especially intriguing given the fact that Canada offers an institutional environment that is usually hostile to the emergence of third parties because of the first-past-the-post electoral system, which introduces important distortions between the number of votes and the number of seats won by minor parties (Harmel and Robertson 1985). It is undoubtedly for this reason that an important body of theoretical and empirical research on the rise of third parties comes from Canadian political scientists and sociologists. It is the purpose of this...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Bloc Québécois: Charting New Territories?
      (pp. 111-136)
      Alain-G. Gagnon and Jacques Hérivault

      Similar to the effects of the Fraser Report in the spring of 2004 that looked into misdealings and misappropriations in the sponsorship program of the federal Public Works Department, the revelations by different Adscam actors during the Gomery Commission’s hearings in Montreal in the spring of 2005 have greatly affected Liberal Party fortunes in Quebec, more so than elsewhere in Canada. The Fraser Report essentially highlighted that millions of dollars of government funds had gone missing and were unaccounted for, pointing the finger at a certain number of Montreal advertising firm executives close to the federal Liberal Party who were...

    • CHAPTER 6 Social Democracy and the New Democratic Party
      (pp. 137-160)
      Alan Whitehorn

      In 2004, CBC television launched a high profile Canada-wide contest to discern the “greatest Canadian.” The person selected turned out to be not a former prime minister such as the first one (John A. Macdonald), or the longest serving (Mackenzie King), or the academic turned politician who ushered in the entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Pierre Trudeau). Nor was it an iconic hockey player (Wayne Gretzky) or a bombastic TV sports commentator (Don Cherry). Rather, the man selected was Tommy Douglas, a former leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada’s social democratic party.¹ At its numerical best, the...

  6. Part II: Party Alignments and Mobilization of Interests

    • CHAPTER 7 Realignment and Dealignment in Canadian Federal Politics
      (pp. 163-178)
      Lawrence LeDuc

      The concepts ofrealignmentanddealignmentare familiar ones in the literature on party systems, voting behaviour, and electoral change. The idea that the underpinnings of a party system can be shaken by extraordinary political events, or that new social and economic forces might weaken established party alignments, is embedded in a substantial amount of the comparative literature dealing with longer term patterns of stability and change in party systems. In a seminal article written in 1955, the American political scientist V.O. Key (1955) advanced the argument that periods of realignment generally begin with acritical election, in which entrenched...

    • CHAPTER 8 Cycles and Brokerage: Canadian Parties as Mobilizers of Interest
      (pp. 179-196)
      Steven B. Wolinetz

      “Now you see it … now you don’t” is an apt description of Canadian political parties outside Parliament. Canada’s system of party government ensures that parties in Parliament and provincial legislatures are continually visible, but it is the legislative caucuses or, more specifically, the government and official opposition that we see most. Parties outside government are rarely seen. The relative invisibility of extra-parliamentary organization reflects neither furtiveness nor the media’s preferences but rather their level of activity. Parties outside parliaments do less than we might imagine, and what they do is geared to electoral cycles. If the party is in...

    • CHAPTER 9 Leaders’ Entourages, Parties, and Patronage
      (pp. 197-214)
      Sid Noel

      The pursuit of the leadership of a major political party is a complex, uncertain, and expensive undertaking. While leadership candidates might dream of a spontaneous groundswell of acclaim that will sweep them into the top job (and sweep out the incumbent, if one stands in the way), in reality they know that acclaim must be orchestrated, awkward incumbents must be actively undermined, and large sums of money must be raised and spent. The first task of every would-be leader, therefore, is to assemble a team of advisers, strategists, and consultants who are expert in the management of party leadership campaigns,...

    • CHAPTER 10 Politics Without Parties: Citizen Integration and Interest Articulation in Consensus Politics
      (pp. 215-240)
      Ailsa Henderson

      Within the Canadian political system, political parties enjoy a central role. Research on their contribution to political life focuses on the functional tasks they assume (Smith 1985; Young 1998), their level of organization (Sayers 1999; Whitaker 1977), and the recent transformations undergone by the party system, particularly since 1993 (Carty and Stewart 1996; Carty, Cross, and Young 2000; Carty 2002). While we might question the ways in which the roles of parties are changing, or whether interest groups or the media now better perform some of their tasks, political parties are assumed to have a central role in any future...

    • CHAPTER 11 Political Parties at the Local Level of Government
      (pp. 241-254)
      Mark Sproule-Jones

      Local governments are relatively unstudied in Canada. For example, of the 1,324 members of the Canadian Political Science Association, only 58 self-declare themselves as having teaching or research interests in the local level of government (CPSA 1998). Even fewer political scientists study local government political parties, and current knowledge of party organization at a local government level is even more limited and obscure.

      What literature does exist on Canadian political parties at the local level is small and tends to be city-specific. Two volumes are devoted entirely to local parties, an early collection of essays (Masson and Anderson 1972) and...

    • CHAPTER 12 Value Change and the Dynamics of the Canadian Partisan Landscape
      (pp. 255-276)
      Neil Nevitte and Christopher Cochrane

      This chapter explores the links between values — people’s deep-seated dispositions about the world (Rokeach 1968; Feldman 1988) — and Canada’s partisan landscape. The focus is on two questions: Have there been detectable shifts in Canadian values over the last two decades? And, if so, to what extent have these value shifts been reflected in the partisan landscape?

      On the first question there are strong reasons to believe that Canada, like publics in most other advanced industrial states, has indeed experienced significant value changes (Inglehart 1977; Nevitte 1996; Dalton 2000). Analysts differ somewhat in the precise language they use to...

  7. Part III: Elections, Party Financing, and Political Marketing

    • CHAPTER 13 Canada’s Electoral System
      (pp. 279-302)
      John C. Courtney

      When we speak of an “electoral system,” we are using a term that is used in two different ways. One is wide-ranging, the other narrow. In its broader sense, “electoral system” embraces all of the institutional tools that a state has in place to conduct elections. The most important of these are the franchise, electoral districting, voter registration, electoral management and administration, party and candidate financing, and method of voting. In its narrower sense, the term refers exclusively to the method of election. This second, more constricted meaning is the more commonly used and widely understood in the academic literature,...

    • CHAPTER 14 Provincial Electoral Systems in Question: Changing Views of Party Representation and Governance
      (pp. 303-334)
      F. Leslie Seidle

      In his pioneering and still influential critique of the Canadian electoral system of almost 40 years ago, Alan Cairns (1968: 56) wrote that “the habituation of Canadians to the existing system renders policy oriented research on the comparative merits of different electoral systems a fruitless exercise.” How the situation had changed by 2005! In May, British Columbians voted in a referendum on a single transferable vote model developed by a deliberative citizens’ assembly; the result nearly cleared the high threshold set by the legislature. In Prince Edward Island, a mixed electoral system was rejected in a plebiscite in November. A...

    • CHAPTER 15 Altering the Political Landscape: State Funding and Party Finance
      (pp. 335-354)
      Lisa Young, Anthony Sayers and Harold Jansen

      Money is necessary to the conduct of electoral democracy. In an era of media-oriented, capital-intensive politics, political parties require financial resources to communicate with voters, mobilize their supporters, and maintain their party organization. But parties’ legitimate need for money to conduct their affairs creates dilemmas: if political parties are funded largely by corporations or unions, we worry that they are beholden to these interests. If they are funded by the state, we worry that they are inadequately connected to civil society. And if they are funded solely by individuals, we worry that they are not able to raise enough money...

    • CHAPTER 16 Television Advertising by Political Parties: Can Democracy Survive it?
      (pp. 355-370)
      Stephen Brooks

      The general election of 1867 was Canada’s first national election. There were 339 candidates running in 180 ridings. Roads were rough, travel slow, and telegraph lines few. In order to get their message to the electorate candidates relied on three main forms of communication. One involved face-to-face contact with voters at public meetings, in town halls, and on street corners. The second was through posters and pamphlets. The third was newspaper coverage. Candidates did not buy advertising in newspapers, nor did the political coalitions that were the precursors to the political parties that emerged by 1878. However, the newspapers of...

    • CHAPTER 17 The Internet and Political Communication in Canadian Party Politics: The View from 2004
      (pp. 371-382)
      Darin Barney

      Political parties are, in a manner of speaking, communication technologies. They are artificial instruments that mediate the flow of information between the party’s leadership and its audience, the electorate. Information flows through parties in both directions: parties gather useful information about the electorate and communicate this to their leadership for strategic consideration; they also disseminate the messages of leadership to the electorate for its consideration, by a variety of means. Or, at least, they used to do these things. Already in 1979, John Meisel (1985) recognized that the communicative function of political parties had been more or less usurped by...

  8. Part IV: Representation and Democracy

    • CHAPTER 18 Interest Groups, Social Movements, and the Canadian Parliamentary System
      (pp. 385-410)
      Hugh G. Thorburn

      Policy-making in democratic states is a matter of ascertaining the will of the nation and translating it into policy for implementation. Parliament and cabinet are the traditional primary instruments, but they have come to be supplemented by other voluntary groups that wish to influence policy. Lobbies have long been present, representing private groups with special interests in aspects of policy, particularly business and professional interests. Recently, the voluntary sector or non-profits — representing environmental, feminist, gay and lesbian, handicapped, Aboriginal, and other interests — have been added to the roster of registered lobbyists by the federal government (Brock 2006). Naturally,...

    • CHAPTER 19 Between Integration and Fragmentation: Political Parties and the Representation of Regions
      (pp. 411-436)
      James Bickerton

      The regionalization of Canadian politics and the fragmentation of the Canadian electorate associated with the changes wrought by the 1993 federal election results, changes confirmed in subsequent federal elections, suggest yet again the profound influence of region on Canadian politics and on the Canadian party system. Many voters in that election and the three that followed turned away from pan-Canadian parties that pursued national integration through the construction of grand coalitions spanning Canada’s regional, linguistic, and class divides. This suggests that voters had rejected that particular mode of interparty competition and political representation that Carty, Johnston, and others have referred...

    • CHAPTER 20 The Problem of Political Drop-outs: Canada in Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 437-466)
      Henry Milner

      The recent decline in voter turnout in established democracies² has been especially acute in Canada. Starting from a rate of average or better among comparable countries, Canadian turnout has plummeted. Its steady and sharp decline — from 75 per cent in 1988 to under 65 per cent in the three elections since 2000 — has seen Canada join the traditionally low-turnout United States, Japan, and Switzerland at the bottom. Only Britain among comparable countries has experienced as precipitous a decline — from 78 per cent in 1992 to 59 per cent in 2001. Moreover, the Canadian figure is itself somewhat...

    • CHAPTER 21 The Paradoxes of Direct Democracy
      (pp. 467-490)
      A. Brian Tanguay

      As Canada lurched from one political crisis to another in the late 1980s and early 1990s, faith in the country’s representative institutions and trust in its political class plummeted. The acrimonious debate over free trade with the United States, the imposition of the widely reviled Goods and Services Tax, the armed stand-off between Mohawk Warriors and the Canadian army at Oka, the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord: all of these exacted a severe toll on the health of Canadian democracy. Voter disenchantment with “politics as usual” first expressed itself in the decisive rejection of the Charlottetown Accord in a...

    • CHAPTER 22 The Waning of Political Parties
      (pp. 491-512)
      Grant Amyot

      Are political parties necessary? This question is at least as relevant as when the last edition of this volume appeared eleven years ago. By and large, the signs of parties’ decline are even more evident today. In the developed democracies, party loyalties among voters are weakening and party membership is declining, as more and more citizens take up an independent stance and electorates are increasingly volatile from one election to the next. The policies of the competing parties differ less on fundamental issues, and in any case major decisions appear to be made by bureaucrats and international bodies, far from...

  9. Statistical Appendices: Canadian Federal Election Results, 1925-2006
    (pp. 513-548)
    Tony J. Couslon and Sean Geobey
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 549-554)
  11. Index
    (pp. 555-574)