Canadian politics · Presentations · Responsible government

“Less Responsible?” Assessing the comparative turn in Canadian legislative studies – CPSA 2011, Wilfrid Laurier University

CPSA logoMy paper for this year’s meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association looks at the development of Canadian legislative studies over the past 25 years. In past authors like Jonathan Malloy complained that the subfield was dominated by the “responsible government approach,” which led Canadian scholars to focus on defending the country’s existing parliamentary system rather than trying to study it systematically. As such, few attempts were made to compare the performance of Canadian legislatures with those in other jurisdictions.

In contrast, my findings show that over the past decade Canadians working in legislative studies have begun taking theories from the comparative literature and using them to shed light on Canadian developments – a trend that reflects the broader “comparative turn” in Canadian Political Science. However, my findings also suggest that Canadians working in legislative studies are so far limited to being “takers” of comparative theory, and will not become “makers” until they begin directly comparing the legislatures in Canada with those elsewhere.

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