Droit et analyse de politiques

D11(b) - Evidence and Rhetoric in Policymaking

Date: Jun 13 | Heure: 10:15am to 11:45am | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Stephanie Paterson (Concordia University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Adrienne Davidson (McMaster University)

Emotional Discourses of Conservative Opposition to 2SLGBTQ+ Rights in the United States: Logan Bates (Concordia University)
Abstract: 2SLGBTQ+ rights have steadily improved over the past two decades in the United States (US). However, there has recently been a rise in anti-2SLGBTQ+ laws that focus on parental rights and the well-being of children. These laws are increasingly successful despite favorable public opinion towards 2SLGBTQ+ rights and increased protections for queer Americans. Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US, conservative opposition to 2SLGBTQ+ rights shifted away from emotional discourses of disgust to legal rights-based discourses of religious freedom and individual liberties. This discursive shift seemingly removed emotional discourses from conservative opposition to 2SLGBTQ+ rights, but this project finds that this is not entirely true. Through a case study of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, I ask how emotional discourses are currently being used by conservative opposition to 2SLGBTQ+ rights. I employ emotion discourse analysis (EDA) to analyze the emotional discourses present in social media posts and interviews from Florida politicians in support of the Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill. My findings demonstrate that emotional discourses of fear, security, and disgust are still present in contemporary conservative opposition, and that the shift to legal rights-based discourses represents a sanitization of emotional discourses that are unfavorable to an increasingly 2SLGBTQ+ friendly public. In addition to my contributions towards 2SLGBTQ+ studies, this study speaks to the affective turn in political science. This paper agrees with the burgeoning literature that finds emotions ever more present and consequential in the field.

The Influence of Scientific Expertise on Policy Conflicts in the Context of EU Environmental Policymaking: Alice Dechamps (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Abstract: It is today widely accepted that scientific expertise plays a crucial role in informing and shaping environmental policymaking processes at all levels of governance. The environmental challenges that have to be dealt with have been characterized by high complexity and uncertainty; therefore creating a dependence on scientific advice to identify, understand and predict environmental phenomena. Over the last few years, authors from different strands of literature have been warning about the rise of technocracy in EU environmental policymaking (Accetti 2021, Armeni and Lee 2021). They point out diverse adverse consequences of this trend including fewer opportunities for stakeholder participation as well as depoliticization of the issues at hand - resulting in the impression that governing environmental issues is solely about scientific findings and predictions, and by doing so, often concealing existing debates about contested worldviews. In line with scholars challenging the idea of a rational and linear transfer from science to policy, this paper looks at the impact of scientific expertise on the content of policy conflicts in the context of EU environmental politics. Although the nexus between epistemic politics and policy conflicts has already been explored in the context of local environmental conflicts, empirical research at other levels of governance seems to be scarce. As a first step in that direction, this paper provides a transdisciplinary overview of the relevant literature and offers an empirical framework for future research.

The Impact of Tough-on-Crime Rhetoric on Bail Policy Under the Trudeau Government: Nancy Hills (University of Waterloo), Brendan Dell (Queen's University)
Abstract: Largely advanced by right-wing parties, a “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice policy is one that focuses on stricter enforcement and harsher penalties to reduce crime. While literature on such approaches has largely focused on the United States, the concept found relevance in Canada under the Harper government which adopted a tough-on-crime approach to criminal justice policy (Kelly and Puddister 2017; Zinger 2016). Despite this, there is little research regarding the impact of tough-on-crime rhetoric on government responses and the development of criminal justice policy itself. Amendments to bail policy under the Trudeau government provides us with an interesting case study to evaluate the impact of tough-on-crime rhetoric. The killing of an OPP officer by an individual who was out on bail (focusing event), subsequent responses by Canadian politicians and news media, and stricter bail laws as proposed in Bill C-48 by the Liberal government allows us to fully track this case study from beginning to end. The analysis in this paper is conducted in two parts. First, a media analysis establishes the parties’ stances on the issue and the degree of tough-on-crime rhetoric following the focusing event. Second, the Liberal government’s policy response is tracked by analyzing Bill C-48’s legislative debates. This paper demonstrates that the Liberal government felt the effect of the tough-on-crime rhetoric, which led them to propose policy that would not typically align with their party’s stance. Ultimately, this paper contributes to existing literatures on tough-on-crime approaches, penal populism, and criminal justice policy in Canada.