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Revised Summary for Week 9, November 9 Readings
Federalism, Political Parties, and the burden of National Unity: Still Making
Federalism Do the Heavy Lifting?
H. Bakvis & B. Tanguay
Chapter 6 seeks to explore the role of political parties in the question of national unity. Exploring
the questions of whether there is a possibility of parties playing a more active role in terms of the
national unity, what are reasonable expectations and if the development of political parties in the
1960s and 1970s is still relevant.
What is the importance of political parties?
The main function they serve is that of representation, but they are also a candiate pool to those
who will end up making decisions, and setting the policy agenda. For instance, the few seats won
in Quebec all went to the Cabinet for regional representation, but had they gotten more candidates
elected in the region it is unlikely that the same would have been picked.
A parties-Based Theory of Federalism
In Canada there are three aspects to parties-based theory of Federalism. The first is federal bargain,
by Ricker who argued that the level of symmetry-asymmetry in a federation determined the nature
of the federal bargain and whether the nation in question was centralized or decentralized. The
second aspect is the intrastate dimension, meaning the representation of local and regional interests
at the federal level. Lastly is the third dimension, that looks at the structure of party systems and
the competition amongst them.
The three types of party systems include single party majority, multiparty with one dominant, and a
coalition. Several problems arise with a single party majority as it could undermine the
collaborative norms that are needed for the federation to function smoothly.
Canada’s Party System from 1867-2000: The Triumph of Regionalism
Regionalism in Canada has played a big role in federal politics, but until the middle of the first
world war the tensions were contained by the two-party system. Regional economic grievances,
rapid industrialization and urbanization brought forth a second national party system that created
programs that appealed to a broad coalition of diverse interests between 1921 and 1925. Tacticts to
try and appeal to a wide variety of individuals is refered to as brokerage politics.
Another way to easy tensions was to fill cabinets with influential regional figures otherwise known
as Regional Ministers in Cabinet. A Regional Minister is simply a member of Cabinet that has
demonstrated to speak up when there are problems in their corresponding province. Currently, in
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