Political parties exist at the centre of democratic politics, but where does power lie within them, and how is it exercised? The Political Party in Canada explores the inner workings of these complex organizations through an examination of the composition and roles of key party actors (members and activists, candidates, local associations, donors, central officials, and members of Parliament), as well as the interactions between them.
Contemporary parties play a key role in recruiting and selecting candidates and leaders, waging election campaigns, and organizing legislatures. Drawing on a rich trove of data from the 2015 and 2019 federal elections, this comprehensive examination of Canadian party organizations explores a variety of party actors, from the local constituency office to party headquarters to Parliament Hill. The authors comb through interviews, surveys, financial and nomination reports, party websites and social media, and candidate and MP biographies, and examine the career trajectories of political operatives. Their analysis reveals the composition, functions, activities, and power-sharing relationships that characterize Canadian parties. It focuses not only on which groups are included in decision-making but also on what power and authority rest with each level of the parties’ respective structures.
Basing its astute investigation on the themes of complexity, representation, and personalization, The Political Party in Canada provides important insights into a fundamental institution that makes modern democracy possible.
This masterful examination is essential reading for students and scholars of political science, anyone working with or within the political system, journalists, and readers interested in the inner workings of government and democracy.
There has not been a comprehensive account of all Canadian federal political parties in almost two decades, so this thorough and contemporary account is simply a must-read for any serious scholar in the field.
William P. Cross is a professor of political science at Carleton University. Among his many publications are Regional Battles, National Prize? Elections in a Federal State and Politics at the Centre: The Selection and Removal of Party Leaders in the Anglo Parliamentary Democracies, which received the 2013 Donald Smiley Prize. Scott Pruysers is an assistant professor of political science at Dalhousie University. His publications include The Personalization of Democratic Politics and the Challenge for Political Parties and The Promise and Challenge of Party Primary Elections. Rob Currie-Wood is an assistant professor of political science at St. Francis Xavier University. He is a recipient of the Canadian Study of Parliament Group Charles B. Koester student essay prize and has been published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science and Political Geography.
1 Political Parties and their Place in Canadian Democratic Life
2 The Parties’ Members
3 The Parties’ Local Associations
4 The Parties’ Candidates
5 The Parties’ Donors
6 The Party in Central Office
7 The Party in Public Office
8 Political Parties and the Challenges of Complexity, Representation, and Personalization
Afterword; Appendix; Notes; References; Index
Fighting for Votes
Parties, the Media, and Voters in an Ontario Election
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