Canadian Politics

A16(b) - Candidate Diversity in Canadian Politics

Date: Jun 14 | Time: 08:30am to 10:00am | Location:

Gender, Sector, and Electoral Pipelines: Dawn Moffat McMaster (University of Calgary), Melanee Thomas (University of Calgary)
Abstract: How does sector employment (private, public, and nonprofit) interact with gender to structure Canadian candidate pipelines? Electoral pipelines, or the process by which a person runs for public office, are notoriously leaky for women in Canada. Occupation has been studied from both supply and demand perspectives in candidate emergence (Norris and Lovenduski, 1995; Lawless, 2012; Bernhard et al, 2021) and vote choice (Mechtel, 2014; Campbell and Cowley, 2014; Coffé and Theiss-Morse, 2016; Crowder-Meyer et al, 2019). Existing work focuses on individual occupations, but sector employment offers a generalizable missing link that explains gendered electoral pipelines. Employment by sector is measurably gendered in Canada: men are overrepresented in the private sector and women overwhelmingly so in the nonprofit sector. Preliminary evidence using a unique measure to capture sector employment shows that these employment patterns are replicated and even exacerbated in the electoral pipeline. Women are less likely than men to work in the private sector, and the few women in the private sector are even less likely to be candidates for public office. In contrast, the proportion of Canadian women working in nonprofits and the proportion of women candidates with nonprofit experience are roughly equivalent. This suggests that the private sector pipeline (and to a lesser extent, the public sector pipeline) leaks more for women than does the nonprofit. To explain this finding, I theorize the role of sector employment and gender in the acquisition of policy knowledge, politically relevant skills, and networks that contribute to deeply gendered electoral pipelines.

Why Aren’t LGBTQ+ Candidates Winning When They Run? Evidence from Canada: Quinn Albaugh (Queen's University), Elizabeth Baisley (Queen's University)
Abstract: In recent years, several countries—including Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have experienced substantial increases in LGBTQ+ candidates (or “rainbow waves”). In Canada, the number of LGBTQ+ candidates has increased in recent Canadian elections, but the proportion of LGBTQ+ candidates winning their races has decreased over the same time period. Why aren’t LGBTQ+ candidates winning when they run? We examine several possible explanations, including voter bias, district competitiveness (whether parties nominate LGBTQ+ candidates as “sacrificial lambs” in unwinnable districts), and other candidate- and district-level factors. We use an original dataset of candidates for the five largest parties in Canadian elections from 2015-2021. We decompose the gap in winning local races across non-LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ candidates. Our results speak to the growing literature on LGBTQ+ candidates and descriptive representation.

Candidate Diversity in Federal and Quebec Parties: 2021-2022: Benjamin Forest (McGill University)
Abstract: This study analyzes the diversity of candidates in the 2021 Federal and the 2022 Quebec elections. There are substantial differences in proportions of both women and racialized minorities among parties, but these two dimensions of diversity show different partisan patterns. While diversity patterns generally fall along ideological (left-right) lines for federal parties, the patterns for Quebec parties are more complex and suggest that cultural-identity issues play a significant role in candidate selection. Using an original data set of party, candidate, and district characteristics for each election, and multivariate analysis, the paper extends earlier work by including smaller parties that did not win seats, and dimensions of diversity beyond gender and racialized identities, such as nativity/immigration status.

Are Women Candidates Less Likely to Win? An Analysis of Canadian Federal Elections, 2004-2019: Michael Wigginton (Carleton University)
Abstract: The underrepresentation of women in Canadian federal politics is an obvious fact, with only 31% of seats in the House of Commons currently being held by women. The majority of scholarship attributes this deficit to women less often being nominated as (viable) candidates by major parties, and prior research in the Canadian context has suggested that women candidates in Canada get the same number of votes as do men. In this paper, I revisit these past findings by analysing the electoral success of major party candidates in the 2004-2019 general elections. I find that, even when controlling for a party’s past performance in the district, women candidates have only a 22% chance of being elected, compared to 24% for men – in other words, that women are less likely to win election a similarly positioned man would be. While substantively small, this statistically significant difference in performance suggests that discrimination at the ballot box continues to be a barrier to women’s equitable representation.