[Note: a condensed version of this post appears on the Samara Blog]
A few weeks ago UK political scientist Phil Cowley undertook a simple project that used crowd-sourced information to explore what questions Brits had about their country’s cabinet. In other words, he went to Google, typed in “is [name of cabinet member]” and reported the top result suggested by autocomplete. Seeing that no one had yet replicated his findings for Canada, I figured I’d give it a try while watching some Olympic hockey.
Cowley’s experiment was a variant off of the “why is [US State]” meme, and some of his results are similarly bizarre or funny. More surprising though was that for a third of British cabinet members, the top suggestion was whether they were married. Also interesting was that for five cabinet members, the top suggestion was not actually an “is [name]” question. Instead Google substituted “who is [name]” indicating that people used the site to find out who the cabinet minister was, not things about them. There was also one cabinet member whose name produced no suggestions at all.
And so what of Canada? The top autocomplete suggestions for “is [name]” are listed below, and are separated into Ministers (senior cabinet members) and Ministers of State (junior members) according to the order of precedence. This was done since Cowley only covered the 21 senior ministers who make up the British cabinet (junior ministers are not considered cabinet members in the UK). For interest’s sake, I’ve also included Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. I did my best to achieve an unbiased result by signing out of Google and clearing all browser history, cookies, etc. before entering the names.
Continue reading “What do Canadians want to know about cabinet members? Some answers from Google”
This week I took part in the first annual Workshop for PhD students in Canadian Politics at the University of Toronto. It was a great chance to learn about the amazing work being carried out by my colleagues and to get some very valuable feedback about the proposal for my own dissertation, which will compare All-Party Groups in Canada, Northern Ireland, Ontario, Scotland and the UK.
A very big thank you goes out to Professor Peter Loewen for organizing the event, and to Professor Chris Cochrane, Professor Robert Vipond, and fellow student Andrew Mcdougall for their comments on my work.
Download: Dissertation Proposal, Presentation
On February 10th, I presented a paper that I coauthored with Professor Peter Loewen of University of Toronto and Michael MacKenzie of UBC. Our research looked at whether differences in population between national level constituencies in Canada and the UK affects either the quality of the representation that citizens receive from their elected representatives or their overall views of democracy.
Using both survey and experimental research we found that there was no clear relationship between constituency population and citizens’ experiences of democracy. This result, which contradicts the accepted wisdom, suggests that governments in both countries may have more flexibility to create ridings with smaller than average populations so as improve the representation of both less-populated rural areas or communities of common interest.
The paper was well received and the conference, put on by the Honourable Dick and Ruth Bell Chair for the Study of Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, provided a wonderful opportunity to connect and exchange ideas with graduate students from across the country.
This year I am excited to be presenting two papers:
- CPSA/ISA panel: Transnational Advocacy
“Are all networks created equal? A study of patterns of participation within the transnational advocacy network seeking to increase access to treatments for HIV/AIDS in developing countries”
Tuesday, 1 June – 1:45 to 3:30
Download: Paper; Presentation; Data sources; Country dataset; Organization dataset
- CPSA/ ISA workshop: Global Crisis II – Institutions and Leadership
“A Tale of Two Leaders (and a Recession): Leadership Performance and Public
Perception During the Recent Global Economic Crisis”
Coauthored by J.P. Lewis
Wednesday, 2 June – 9:00 to 10:30
Download: Paper; Presentation