What are the obstacles to the successful practice of brokerage party politics in
One of the most significant developments in Canadian politics in recent years has
been the creation of a new Conservative party under Stephen Harper which has
successfully challenged the previously dominant Liberal party. How has Harper
succeeded at this task?
What are the biggest obstacles to the successful practice of brokerage party politics in
“A party leader in Canada can choose to be a brokerage politician, or the champion of
an ideology or region. But he or she cannot be both at the same time.” Discuss the
validity of this statement.
What are the obstacles to the successful practice of brokerage politics in Canada?
Brokerage parties are centrist in policy orientation, taking positions that bridge
political divides. The Liberal Party of Canada is the classic example. It has
crossed the French language/English language division, and the owner/worker
one as well
They reflect the mainstream of Canadian political culture
They make an effort to appeal to all Canadian regions, interests and the two most
important language groups (English, French).
The brokerage theory of how the mainstream parties operate is that given all of
the multiple cleavages in Canadian society, parties should act as brokers and
mediate conflict between regions, language groups, religions, provinces,
Not only is this how a party wins elections (by winning some seats in every
region), this is also how parties can serve as the glue keeping the country together.
Every society has divisions, or cleavages. Every successful society must have
institutions which manage these cleavages. In Canada, historically, the
government party has been an important institution for managing cleavages.
Another institution for managing cleavages in Canada: the cabinet.
Brokerage parties are pragmatic and opportunist. The Harper Conservative party is now the dominant party in English Canada. How
did the Harper Conservatives achieve this?
Stephen Harper is a good case-study of a politician attempting to build a
brokerage party. As PM, he has been successful in managing some of the