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Provincial and Territorial Politics in Canada and Beyond

J10(b) - By-Elections, Political Financing and Public Participation

Date: Jun 5 | Time: 10:30am to 12:00pm | Location: EOSM 135

Chair/Président/Présidente : David McGrane (University of Saskatchewan)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : David McGrane (University of Saskatchewan)

By-Elections in Canadian Provinces: The Electoral Afterthoughts: Jocelyn McGrandle (Concordia University), Alex B. Rivard (University of British Columbia)
Abstract: By-elections, which are the procedures of filling a vacated legislative seat in between regular elections, are a consistent part of most parliamentary systems worldwide. Notwithstanding the commonality and frequency of such events, by-elections are notably understudied, especially when compared to other aspects of the democratic process (Mughan 1986; Feigert and Norris 1990; Loewen and Bastien 2010). In particular, by-elections in Canada are exceptionally understudied (Kay 1981; Massicotte 1981; Feigert and Norris 1990; Loewen and Bastien 2010). Despite this, recent studies have indicated the by-elections are significant political events in Canada (Loewen and Bastien 2010), and in Québec (Massicotte 1981; Rivard and McGrandle forthcoming). This is notable, because it means that by-elections are not idiosyncratic, singular events; rather, they are, by and large, significant political events and demonstrations of voter perceptions of government behaviour. Therefore, by-elections are an important, impactful feature of the democratic process in Canada, yet very little is known about them. Indeed, there exists no systematic examination of by-elections at the provincial level, outside of Québec. Therefore, this paper seeks to address this lacuna in the literature by addressing the following questions: what factors most impact by-elections in provincial elections? How do such by-elections impact the democratic functioning of provincial governments? Are there discernable patterns unique to specific provinces? In answering these questions, this paper will use various regression techniques based on a constructed database of all provincial elections from 1900-2018 from BC, Ontario, and New Brunswick.


The Province as Proving Ground: Assessing Nova Scotia’s Political Finance Regime: Anna Johnson (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Often considered a traditionalist and conservative province with a penchant for patronage politics, Nova Scotia is not well known for policy innovation. In recent years, however, this province has become a leader in an unlikely policy area: political financing. In 1969, Nova Scotia became the second Canadian jurisdiction, after Quebec, to introduce political finance regulation. These initial reforms were limited in scope and were, in large part, introduced as a strategy to deflect criticism arsing from various political scandals. However, after the gradual introduction of provisions from all four of the common campaign finance areas—expense limits, contribution limits, public funding, and reporting and transparency mechanisms—Nova Scotia’s political finance regime is now one of the most highly regulated in the country. While the regime is comprehensive on paper, it is unclear whether it is effective in achieving the goals for which it was created: equality of opportunity for political and private actors, transparency, and the mitigation of corruption. This paper uses data from recent provincial elections to examine the degree to which Nova Scotia’s campaign finance regime achieves these benchmarks. The data reveals that, while certain provisions, such as expense limits, have failed to level the playing field for political actors, the effective use of contribution limits and public funding, as well as a concerted effort by Elections Nova Scotia to improve transparency and enforcement, have enabled the regime to achieve these goals. This paper underscores the potential of studying provinces as proving grounds for political finance regulation.

660.Johnson.pdf