Canadian Politics

Faculty of Social Sciences

Canadian Politics

Political scientists who specialize in Canadian Politics study the people, ideas, institutions, laws and policies that have shaped this country.  While a background in this field is essential for careers in government, law, education, journalism, political parties and non-governmental organizations, there are other important reasons why all Canadians should learn about the government and politics of their country.

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.  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. 

The core undergraduate course is The Government and Politics of Canada (POLI2F12).  Students learn about the constitution, the parliamentary system, federalism, the courts’ protection of rights and freedoms, elections and political parties, public involvement in political affairs, and the impact of the digital media on news reporting and political participation.  Contemporary issues such as Aboriginal affairs, immigration and diversity policy, and the representation of women in politics, are also discussed.  POLI 2F12 is strongly recommended as a prerequisite for 3rd and 4th year Canadian politics courses.

Other Canadian politics courses deal with public law and the courts ─ essential offerings for students considering a career in law  ─ Aboriginal politics, the media, political parties and elections, and interest groups and social movements.  Students contemplating a career in government are strongly encouraged to enrol in courses dealing with federalism, provincial and local politics.  

Canadian Politics Faculty
 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).