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Provincial and Territorial Politics in Canada and Beyond

J15 - Workshop: The Changing Face of Provincial Party Politics I: Blue Wave? Conservatives in the Canadian Provinces

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: ESB 2012

Chair/Président/Présidente : Kelly Saunders (Brandon University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Kelly Saunders (Brandon University)


Session Abstract: Recent elections across Canada have resulted in historically odd results. In most provincial elections, governing parties are elevated from the Official Opposition, yet recent results have seen third-place parties vault directly into government (Alberta, Quebec). Provincial elections are known for resulting in sizeable majorities for the victors, yet some recent election outcomes have been so close that minority governments have formed and fallen soon afterward (BC and New Brunswick). Provincial party systems typically stable, yet long-serving governments have been toppled decisively in recent elections (Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec) and minor parties have risen to prominence (Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick). This workshop is designed to unpack these developments on a party-by-party basis, uncovering patterns, trends, and anomalies across Canada.


Blue Returns to Quebec: An Analysis (2003-2018): Frederic Boily (University of Alberta), Amy Vachon-Chabot (University of Alberta)
Abstract: The election of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) in October 2018 represents a significant shift in Quebec politics. It is the first time since 1970 that a political party other than the Parti libéral du Quebec (PLQ) or the Parti québécois (PQ) wins a provincial election. Thus, our research seeks to understand how this right-wing party took over power against established parties. First, we describe the context and identify some dimensions that created Ean opportunity for the CAQ to form a government. Between the 2003 and 2014 Quebec general elections, the provincial political system changed with the decline of the sovereignty movement and the rise of the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ). Second, we analyze the 2018 electoral campaign and the first moments of the CAQ government. Third, we finish by comparing the CAQ's discourse with those of other provincial right-wing parties in Canada: the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the United Conservative Party (UPC). This approach enables us to understand the specificities of the Quebec Right.


For the People? The Ontario PCs’ Path Back to Power, 2003-2018: Jason VandenBuekel (University of Toronto), Meghan Snider (University of Toronto)
Abstract: This paper charts the changing internal and external circumstances of the Ontario PC party between 2003 and 2018, with a particular focus on the period from 2014 onward. We examine the records of PCs leaders over this time, with special emphasis on the tenures of Patrick Brown and Doug Ford. How did party policy evolve under these leaders, and what factors best explain that evolution? Here, we consider the influence of linkages with other Canadian conservative parties, changing interest group politics, and the role of personality and leadership on the evolution of party policy. We also assess here whether the PCs under Doug Ford are, as many have claimed, in fact more populist than previous iterations of the party. Next, we turn to an analysis of the 2018 general election in historical perspective. Are the election results evidence of a party system in flux, or was the PC victory merely a routine return to power for Ontario’s historically dominant party? Is the PCs’ victory more accurately interpreted as an endorsement of Doug Ford’s brand of politics, or a rejection of the Ontario Liberals after 15 years in government? To answer these questions, we draw on polling data, election results, party platforms, media coverage, and the policy agenda of the Ford government.


Conservative Parties within the Context of Alberta’s Evolving Party System: Clark Banack (University of Alberta)
Abstract: This paper explores the significant electoral volatility experienced within Alberta politics over the last decade, focusing especially on the fate of various Conservative parties in the province within an evolving party system. Taking into account the results of the Spring 2019 election, this paper argues that specific economic factors have fractured the long-running Single Dominant Party system in the province, resulting in significant volatility amongst parties in general and Conservative parties in particular.