What happens in a democracy when the views of experts and the desires of the people come into conflict? This was the question addressed at the 2011 Walter Gordon Symposium – an annual event put on by Massey College and the School of Public Policy and Governance to discuss a subject of immediate importance to Canada.
I had the privilege to present on research that I have been assisting Professor David Rayside with on the relationship between religious-activism and Canadian political parties. Specifically, the research looks at the factors that led the Ontario government to abandon changes to the province’s Sex Ed curriculum following protests by religious conservatives. Ultimately we concluded that it was not the pressure from the religious conservatives themselves that sparked the government’s reversal, but rather the fear that the issue could resonate with other constituencies as well, such as Catholic voters and new Canadians.