Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Political scientists who specialize in Canadian Politics study the institutions, ideas, laws, policies, groups and individuals that have shaped this country and the lives of Canadians.
There are several reasons why it is important for citizens, and young people in particular, to understand the government and politics of the country in which they live, work and play. Canada has faced dramatic events and difficult challenges to its sovereignty and unity, to emerge as one of the world’s most prosperous, peaceful and democratic states ─ a place where millions of people around the world want to live. Yet there are enormous challenges that threaten this coveted status, including growing social inequality, environmental degradation, and public apathy about key decision-making institutions. Informed debates about these issues need to be grounded in knowledge about Canada’s history and structures of governance.
Second, our constant exposure to American politics can leave the impression that politics in Canada is less interesting and less important than that of our neighbour. While what happens in American politics affects Canada and the rest of the world, we should not be too modest about Canada’s leadership role abroad and at home. Canadians played a major role in the outcome of the Second World War and were active in creating the United Nations and other international institutions that are of continuing importance. Canada and Canadians took the lead in eliminating the threat to the environment caused by ozone-depleting substances, in creating the International Criminal Court that can bring to justice those accused of crimes against humanity, and in gaining agreement among many countries to ban anti-personnel land mines. On the domestic front, while American President Barack Obama has struggled to bring modest changes to the American health care system, Canada’s first universal public medicare system was introduced in Saskatchewan in 1962. Finally, an extensive background in Canadian politics is essential for careers in government, law, education, journalism, and political parties and non-governmental organizations.
The core undergraduate course in Canadian politics is POLI 2F12, The Government and Politics of Canada. It helps students understand who wields power in the Canadian political system, why conflict takes places between governments, individuals and groups, and how these conflicts are resolved. Students learn about the workings of the parliamentary system, federalism, the courts’ protection of rights and freedoms, elections and political parties, and how citizens can become involved in political affairs. They also learn how our decision-makers have managed the country’s great geographic, linguistic, cultural, gender and class diversity. POLI 2F12 is strongly recommended as a prerequisite for 3rd and 4th year Canadian politics courses. Some of our Canadian politics courses deal with public law and the courts ─ essential offerings for students considering a career in law. Others deal with the media, political parties, elections and social movements. Students interested in a career in government are well-advised to enrol in courses dealing with federalism, provincial and local politics.
Canadian Politics Faculty
There are three faculty members whose research interests are primarily in Canadian politics. Matthew Hennigar studies law and the courts, with an emphasis on constitutional law, rights, judicial appointment, and government litigation. Livianna Tossutti studies Canadian political behaviour, public opinion and immigration and diversity policies. Several additional faculty members do Canadian research. They include Hevina Dashwood (Canadian foreign policy; corporate social responsibility), Juris Dreifelds((environmental policies; media), Tim Heinmiller (environmental governance), and David Siegel (local government).