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Canadian Politics

A07(c) - Candidates, Citizens and Campaigns

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SCRF 1021

Chair/Président/Présidente : Hannah Wylie (University of Ottawa)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Laura Stephenson (Western University)

Who Runs for Politics?: Semra Sevi (Université de Montréal), Danielle Mayer (Université de Montréal), André Blais (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: Many elected officials are seen to come from affluent occupational backgrounds, such as business, politics and government and law, before running to become a Member of Parliament. Yet to our knowledge, this has not been tested empirically over time in Canada. Our study aims to fill this lacuna. We collected longitudinal data from the Library of Parliament covering 42 Canadian federal parliamentary elections from 1867-2015. Our dataset is composed of 42,317 observations including the occupations of every candidate who ran for office. This large dataset allows us to compute precise estimates of the difference in electoral fortunes of individuals who run for politics with different occupational backgrounds. Who has ever placed their name on a ballot and how did they do? What type of occupations do individuals have before launching their political campaign? Have candidate occupations changed over time? Do candidates with certain careers succeed disproportionally more than others? Do political parties recruit more candidates from a certain profession? These are the questions our study aims to answer.


Public Opinion and Election Pledges: What do Citizens Want and What do Parties Offer?: Dominic Duval (University of California, Davis)
Abstract: Do parties’ policy preferences reflect the preferences of citizens? Put otherwise, does the policy supply during election match the demand? This paper establishes whether there is a link between popular demands (Voter’s preferences) for large samples of pledges made by parties (the policy commitments; the political offer) over several successive elections. More precisely, this research investigates the connection between citizens’ aggregated preferences and the pledges made during electoral campaigns. This also initiates a more normative discussion about electoral pledges, insofar as pledges are only evaluated with regards to their fulfillment and the democratic implications of the pledge-making process are seldom discussed. This paper analyzes the pledges made by all Canadian parties between 1993 and 2011 in relation to the citizens’ “Support for Spending” public opinion time series for each policy domain surveyed. We find that when the public’s demand for policy diminishes (or increases) in a domain, there is a decrease (or increase) of pledges made in that domain during the next election.


Mapping the Multicultural Consensus Among Canadian Political Parties: Meghan Snider (University of Toronto), Christopher Cochrane (University of Toronto), Jason VandenBeukel (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Public opinion researchers consistently find that levels of anti-immigrant opinion in Canada are comparable to levels observed in most other democratic countries. Canada also has one of the highest rates of immigration in the world, which means that immigration is more visible in Canada than elsewhere. Yet, Canada does not have the anti-immigrant politics that now characterizes the politics of most other democratic countries. This “Canadian Exceptionalism” is often attributed to a multicultural consensus among Canadian political parties that began in 1971, and has persisted ever since. This paper examines in an historical perspective the evolving patterns of arguments about immigration and diversity among political parties in the Canadian House of Commons, with a particular focus on the multicultural consensus. What kinds of debates preceded it? What kinds of arguments have followed? Do the parties agree on the reasons why immigration and multiculturalism are good, or merely that they are good? Drawing on party platform data from the Manifesto Project (https://manifesto-project.wzb.eu/) and the newly digitized record of floor debates in the Canadian House of Commons (www.lipad.ca) , we address these questions using new tools from the field of Natural Language Processing.


The History of Canada's Ineffective Honesty in Politics Requirements, and Why and How to Make Them Effective: Duff Conacher (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law)
Abstract: The paper presents the first examination of the history of Canada’s ineffective federal honesty-in-politics laws and rules, and why and how to make them effective. Laws and codes that apply to federal politicians, political staff, Cabinet appointees, and government employees have required honesty for decades but have not been effective at stopping dishonesty. The paper answers the following questions: What are the theoretical frameworks and arguments for preventing dishonesty in politics? What are the rules in the various federal laws and codes prohibiting dishonesty? What are the past and existing federal enforcement systems? What are the past and existing penalties? What are some of the key cases of dishonesty in recent history that have not been prevented? How can each existing rule prohibiting dishonesty, and each existing enforcement and penalty system, be made effective? The paper deploys doctrinal research methodology, and a comparative law approach, to analyze the existing federal Canadian rules and enforcement and penalty systems as compared to best-practice rules, enforcement and penalty systems.