Politique canadienne



A11(a) - Parliament II

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

Chair/Président/Présidente : Chris Greenaway (University of Toronto)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Chris Greenaway (University of Toronto)

Debating the Voting Age: how Canadian Legislators Grapple with the Federal Voting Age: Valere Gaspard (University of Ottawa), Benjamin Ferland (co-supervisor) (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: Legislators play a crucial role in deciding on the legal voting age in their countries. And yet, we know too little about how they frame support or opposition to changing the voting age. This paper uses frame analysis to explore the arguments made by Canadian parliamentarians to support or oppose changes to its federal voting age. This paper poses a two-part research question: “what frames are being used to support or oppose changing the voting age from 18 to 16?” and “have these arguments changed from the ones Canada used to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 in the early 1970s?” I find that a majority of arguments being used by parliamentarians to support or oppose changes to the federal voting age are not consistent with the ones used prior to the 1970 reform, demonstrating the criteria that parliamentarians believe are important for lowering the voting age have changed.


Class Dismissed? Measuring the Representation of Class within Canadian Legislatures from 1993-2021: Louise Cockram (Carleton University)
Abstract: This paper explores descriptive and substantive representation within Canadian legislatures based on class. The literature on diversity within Canadian legislatures has long focused on descriptive and substantive representation based on gender (Trimble et al, 2013; Tremblay, 1998). However, there remains a gap when it comes to measuring class within Canadian legislatures. This lack of consideration regarding the class background of legislators in Canada is puzzling, especially given the increasing wealth disparities (Campbell, 2020) and the negative democratic consequences of wealth inequality (Hay, 2007). My paper compares the pre-election career backgrounds of Members of Parliament (MPs) and members of provincial assemblies from 1993 to 2021 against class dynamics within the Canadian population at large during the same period. From 2008 to 2019, the two most common pre-election career backgrounds among MPs at the federal level in Canada were business and law (Johnson et al, 2021), with few MPs arriving in the House from manual or service occupations. In my paper, I expand this analysis to incorporate provincial legislators. The inclusion of provincial legislators in this study is important as provinces have jurisdiction over government services such as healthcare and education. Both of these policy areas have important implications for all Canadians, but especially those who are working-class and who earn low incomes. Campbell, B. (2020, December 6). Canada’s fiscal update falls short in facing climate change and income inequality. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/canadas-fiscal-update-falls-short-in-facing-climate-change-and-income-inequality-150995. Hay, C. (2007). Why We Hate Politics. Polity Press. Johnson, A., Tolley, E., Thomas, M., & Bodet, M. A. (2021). A New Dataset on the Demographics of Canadian Federal Election Candidates. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 54(3), 717–725. Trimble, L., Arscott, J., & Tremblay, M. (2013). Stalled the representation of women in Canadian governments. UBC Press. Tremblay, M. (1998). Do Female MPs Substantively Represent Women? A Study of Legislative Behaviour in Canada’s 35th Parliament. Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne de Science Politique, 31(3), 435–465.


I Just Gotta Be Me: Authenticity and Parliamentary (Private) Secretaries: Anna Esselment (University of Waterloo)
Abstract: Message discipline among elected representatives is well documented. Going off script, throwing out a wayward remark, or veering away from approved policy lines can be calamitous for a politician and their party. But as voters crave more authenticity from their representatives, does a practice of politics that tightly embraces disciplined communications undermine one’s own sense of being their true selves? This paper seeks to understand whether communications control affects an MP’s authenticity. “Authenticity” attempts to capture a series of characteristics such as consistency, conviction, sincerity, openness, and “realness” in elected representatives. Do politicians feel like their “true selves” when wedded to speaking points? Does this affect how they are able to fulfill their representative role? Parliamentary secretaries (Canada) and parliamentary private secretaries (UK) are the subjects of interest. While government backbenchers are expected stand with their party when casting votes in the House, they are freer to voice differing opinions from the governments because their primary job (similar to members on the opposition benches), is to hold the government to account. Cabinet members, by contrast, are bound by cabinet solidarity. Parliamentary secretaries in both systems are unique subjects because they are quasi-members of the political executive. This puts them in an interesting position in terms of message discipline and their representative role, and we suspect may feel the most constrained in terms of being their authentic selves. Semi-structured interviews with current and former parliamentary (private) secretaries in both jurisdictions will reveal whether authenticity is sidelined in these roles.