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Chapter 9

Week 9 Readings - Chapter 9.docx

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

POLS 2300: Canadian Government And Politics Week 9: Political Parties – Chapter 9 Political Parties and Canadian Democracy - The Canadian Elections Act underscores the primary role as electoral machines - Political Party: an organization that endorses one or more of its members as candidates and supports their election - Largest parties have local organizations, expected to promote national unity and represent the country’s diversity by ensuring that the interests of Canadians from different territorial, linguistic, socio-economic, ethno cultural and gender backgrounds are reflected in their policies, organizational structures and personnel Classifying Political Parties and Party Systems - Political Parties o Parties may be classified on the basis of how they try to appeal to votes o Brokerage Theory: perspective that maintains that parties don’t have clear and coherent ideological programs and that they act pragmatically in order to appeal to the greatest number of votes at election time o Programmatic Parties: Parties that articulate distinct, consistent, and coherent ideological agendas - Party Systems o Party System: A pattern of electoral competition that emerges between two or more parties o Involves counting the number of parties that compete for office o Two Party System: A pattern of competition in which there are two or primarily two, parties o US or UK, party that wins majority of seats in a legislature following an elections forms a single party government o Single party governments tend to enhance government accountability because it is easier for voters to identify which party is responsible for public policies o Adopt moderate, centrist policies o Multi-party systems have been associated with coalition governments in many democratic countries, including Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, three or more parties compete it less likely that a single party will win a majority of legislative power o Jean Blondel identified 4 distinct patterns of party competition:  Two a half party system – pattern of competition whereby two major parties win at least ¾ of the vote, and a third party receives a much smaller share of the vote  Multi-Party System with a Dominant Party – One large party receives about 40% of the vote and the two largest parties together win about 2/3 of the voter support  Multi-Party System without a Dominant Party – Competition where there is no dominant party and three or four parties are well placed to form coalitions The Evolution of Party Competition in Canada - The Roots th o Party competition date back to the early 19 century o Two political tendencies emerged in colonies o The privileged members of the executive and legislative councils led the conservative or Tory element o After the adoption of responsible government, loose alliances of politicians sharing similar tendencies gradually coalesced into parties th o The modern-day Liberals are the successors of these 19 century politicians who advocated the responsible government - The Birth and Collapse of the Two-Party System o Political scientists have identified four eras of the party competition, each distinguished from the previous era in terms of the number of parties competing for power, their social and regional bases of support, their policy orientation, and party organization structures o Party competition was transformed during the second era the classic two party system evolved into a two and a half party system o The Liberals dominated electoral competition and won a plurality of support in every province for most of the period - The New Parties o The Progressives were formed as the expression of a farmers protest movement, represented both a regional protests against the domination of the national economy by central Canada and a rural protest against urban domination of national politics - The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation o Universal pensions, universal health care, unemployment insurance o The CCF never attracted more than 16% of the popular vote - Moving to a Multi-party System o Persisted during the third era with the Liberals holding a competitive advantage over the Progressive Conservatives o Although the NDP improved upon the CCF’s performance by growing its appeal among trade unionists and the poor and in northern and urban Ontario it never place higher than third in federal elections - The Liberals in Charge o The “electoral earthquake” in 1993 dramatically reshaped party competition o Liberals returned to power with majority and the distinction of being the only party that was able to elect members from every province and territory o The election was also remarkable for the breakthrough made by new regional parties o The Reform party benefited from voter dissatisfaction with parties that were perceived to be giving in too much to Quebec’s constitutional demands o The Bloc capitalized on anger about the failure of constitutional reform efforts to recognize Quebec’s distinctiveness and transfer more powers to the provinces - The Liberals Lose Ground o Liberal support eroded and no single party was able to form a majority government o Conservatives made significant gains in rural and suburban Ontario at the expense of the Liberals and had a modest breakthrough in 2006 - The Battle For a Majority Government o Harper made a controversial request to the governor general to dissolve Parliament and call another election for October 14 hoping to secure a majority mandate o Conservatives responded that the Liberals’ “green shift” plan to reduce personal and corporate income taxes and shift the tax burden to polluting industries would raise the cost of consumer goods, trigger a recession, and lead to job losses o Low levels of support for Liberal leader Dion and the “green shift” Political Parties and the Representation of Interests - Progressive Conservative Party o Countries oldest party until they merged with the Canadian Alliance in 2003 o The Progressive Conservatives formed the government on the eight occasions o Early Canadian conservatism was based on support for a strong central government, close ties with Britain, protectionist trade policies by the late 20 century, the PCs championed the decentralization of powers to the provinces and free trade with the US o Canada’s first government was formed by the Liberal-Conservative party headed by John A. Macdonald, the leading instigator of Confederation o “National Policy” favoured a protective tariff for Canadian industry, government support for railways building, immigration, and Western settlement o During two decades of Liberal dominance, the Conservatives had six leaders and underwent three name changes (National Conservative, National Government, and Progressive Conservative) o The Progressive conservatives chose John Diefenbaker, increased old age pensions, extended and enlarged unemployment insurance benefits, provided financial assistance to regions outside central Canada, helped boost Western Canadian agriculture by arranging wheat sales to China o Political Analysts have suggested three main reasons that the PC failed to displace the liberals as the “natural governing party”  1) Liberals succeeded in regaining their dominance in Quebec  2) Conservatives proved unable to expand their base in the rapidly industrializing and more multicultural regions of Ontario  3) Divisive internal
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