[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”
Professor David Rayside, Jerry Sabin and I have put together a panel on the recent Alberta election. The discussion will take place on Monday, May 14 from 2:00 to 4:00 in Sidney Smith Hall at University of Toronto, room 3130.
The Alberta election produced a surprising victory for incumbent Progressive Conservative Premier Alison Redford despite all polls prior to the vote predicting a majority government for the Wildrose Alliance and its leader Danielle Smith.
The panel will generate a lively discussion on what the election results mean for the future of the province, its links with the rest of Canada, and the public opinion industry. In addition to our work exploring the role of faith in Alberta party politics, Professor Chris Cochrane will present on the perils of election prediction, and Gregory Eady and Yannick Dufresne will share their findings from the Alberta Vote Compass project.
I hope to see you there!
My colleagues Peter Loewen, Michael MacKenzie and I have an op-ed it today’s Ottawa Citizen on the question of whether democracy is harmed when some constituencies have larger populations than others.
In the op-ed we describe research on the issue that we recently conducted using both experimental data and survey results from the Canadian Election Study. Contrary to the popular wisdom, our results found no evidence that those in more populated constituencies either experienced worse representation or were less satisfied with democracy than those in less populated constituencies.
As such, we argue that the desire to ensure equal representation should not necessarily take priority over the desire to ensure that rural areas and other communities of common interest are effectively represented.
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