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Provincial and Territorial Politics in Canada and Beyond

J19(a) - Workshop: The Changing Face of Provincial Party Politics III: Orange Crushed? New Democrats in the Canadian Provinces

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location: SWING 205

Chair/Président/Présidente : Cara Camcastle (Simon Fraser University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Cara Camcastle (Simon Fraser 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 are 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


The Philosophical Challenges of Provincial Social Democracy in Canada: David McGrane (University of Saskatchewan)
Abstract: Mirroring debates in Europe, Canadian social democrats and academics studying the NDP during the 1990s and early 2000s embarked on philosophical discussions about the so-called “Third Way.” However, recent academic research on the NDP at both the provincial and federal level focuses more on the party’s political marketing, election strategy, and the behaviour of its voters. Using an applied political theory approach, this paper seeks to return to the philosophical discussion about social democracy in Canada. It examines the four distinct “philosophical challenges” for social democracy in Canadian provinces in the post-third way era: economic inequality, identity politics, climate change, and models for promoting economic growth. It ends by speculating about how the ability or inability of the provincial sections of the NDP to respond to these philosophical challenges is connected to their varied electoral success in the 21st century.


Decline of a Dominant Party: The Manitoba NDP: Royce Koop (University of Winnipeg), Rory Henry (University of Manitoba)
Abstract: We explore the dramatic decline of the Manitoba NDP, culminating in its defeat in the 2016 provincial election following roughly 17 years in government. Special attention is paid to (1.) intra-party conflict, particularly related to leadership, in the period leading up to this defeat and (2.) developments following the election, particularly efforts at leadership and organizational renewal.


The New Brunswick NDP: Trapped in Quicksand and Sinking: Mario Levesque (Mount Allison University)
Abstract: This paper examines the New Brunswick NDP’s increasing irrelevancy in the province. Political opportunities created by repeated one-term governments post-2000 have not been seized by the NDP. Strong internal party divides have led to either strong leftist or centrist policies and platforms and left potential supporters confused as to whether the party the party sits on the left or centre of the political spectrum. A turnstile leadership approach – eight party leaders post-2000 - has not helped matters. Nor has questionable campaign strategies surrounding party infrastructure and resource allocation has contributed to the NDP’s stagnation and marginalization. This has allowed other third parties such as the Greens and the People’s Alliance to surpass and crowd out the NDP thus questioning the party’s relevancy in an increasingly volatile province and leading to a thorny question: Should the NDP should merge with one of the other parties?