The Canadian Political Science Association began its activities in 1912 and was incorporated under the Canada Corporation Act in 1971.
The objectives of the Association as stated in its Constitution are:
- To encourage and develop political science and its relationship with other disciplines;
- To hold conferences, meetings and exhibitions for the discussion of political science problems and the exchange of views in matters relating to political science;
- To purchase, acquire, take by gift, any devise, bequest, or donation for the objectives of the corporation;
- To give grants, scholarships or fellowships to deserving individuals, groups of persons or organizations in pursuance of the objects of the corporation;
- To publish journals, newspapers, books and monographs relating to political science;
The Association as such, will not assume a position upon any question of public policy not directly related to the discipline of political science or commit its members to any position thereupon.
By Constitution the membership is open to all individuals who are interested in the objectives of the Association.
The Association has currently a membership of some 1350 individuals representing some 50 departments of political science across Canada. It also counts among its membership politicians and public servants representing the federal and all provincial governments, as well as persons from the private sector.
Regular and student memberships are available. Membership in either the Canadian Political Science Association only, or joint membership with the Canadian Political Science Association and the Société québécoise de science politique (Sqsp) includes a subscription to the Canadian Journal of Political Science and the Bulletin. A joint membership also includes a subscription to the Société's Politique et Sociétés.
The Association functions in both of Canada's official languages and has a formal agreement with the Société québécoise de science politique with which it carries on numerous joint activities.
The Association has an elected Board of Directors, nominations to which are received by an appointed Nominating Committee. The Executive is made up of a President, President-Elect, Past-President, Secretary-Treasurer, as well as a representative of the members-at-large elected by the Board.
The Association has a permanent Secretariat currently housed in Ottawa.
The main function of the Canadian Political Science Association is to service its essentially scholarly membership. It holds an Annual General Meeting within the framework of the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. This annual event focuses around the presentation and discussion of learned papers. It sponsors the Parliamentary Internship Programme, attached to the House of Commons, and the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme.
The Association takes part in a series of bilingual colloquiums with the Société québécoise de science politique. It sponsors, supports administratively and runs a departmental services program to provide departments with publications, to keep them informed of issues of interest to the discipline and generally to strengthen networking among Canadian political scientists.
The Association is funded in major part by its members' fees, departmental memberships and by institutional subscriptions to the Canadian Journal of Political Science. It also receives grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for conference travel, the Journal and the Parliamentary Internship Programme. The Ontario Legislature Internship Programme receives most of its funding from the Ontario Legislature. Both internship programmes are also funded by private donors. The Association is a Registered Canadian Charitable Organization.
The Association is a member of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, the International Political Science Association and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It also has strong links with other political science organizations around the globe.