Differing views emerge on the place of ‘political culture’ in Canadian politics

Dr. Royce Koop (right), makes presentation to colleagues on party organization in federal countries. Seated in the centre is Ms Melissa Haussman, and Ms. Sheila Gervais (left).

Canadian participants at a recent Global Dialogue roundtable debated whether a ‘federal political culture’ in Canada should foster civil society groups that play a nation-building role.

In such a process, the civil society groups would form bridges across regional and linguistic divides.

Twenty-four participants debated their views at the Canadian roundtable of the Forum’s Global Dialogue roundtable. The theme of the roundtable is Political Parties and Civil Society Organizations in Federal Countries.

The attendees hailed from academia, political parties, advocacy organizations, think tanks and electoral politics. They came from Alberta, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

While some spoke of building bridges, other participants expressed an opposing view. They contended that the ideals of federalism would best be reflected in distinct civil societies, ones that respect the uniqueness and distinctiveness of one another.

The attendees also discussed the current challenge for political parties of continuing to build on the diversity of its membership on the one hand, while also increasing the opportunity for individual citizens to play a meaningful role in the party process.

The one-day event dealt with three key issues: political parties, inclusiveness in elected office and advocacy organizations. Every session included a focus on the opportunities for citizen engagement in the political process and the challenges posed by federalism.

The roundtable included presentations by:

  1. Dr. Royce Koop on party organization,
  2. David Chernushenko, former Vice President of the Green Party of Canada, on the effects of federalism on advocacy groups,
  3. Dr. Donna Dasko on the work of Equal Voice, a nonpartisan group dedicated to increasing the number of women in political life in Canada,

The event took place at Carleton University in Ottawa, on Nov. 6, 2009. It was co-ordinated by Prof. William Cross of Carleton.

It was attended by:

Dr Jennifer Smith, Dalhousie University
Dr. Gary Levy, Canadian Parliamentary Review
Dr Raffaele Iacovino, Carleton University
Dr. Donna Dasko, Equal Voice
Sheila Gervias, Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen’s University
Ms. Erin Tolley, Queen’s University
Dr. Lisa Young, University Of Calgary
Ms. Mary Pat Mackinnon, Ascentum and University Of Ottawa
Mr. Peter Macleod, Mass LBP
Dr. Alain-G. Gagnon, Université Du Québec à Montréal
Dr. Yasmeen Abu-Laban, University of Alberta
Dr. Martin Papillon, University of Ottawa
Dr. Leslie Seidle, Forum of Federations
Dr. William Cross, Carleton University
Dr. Jonathan Malloy, Carleton University
Dr. Royce Koop, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Dr. Melissa Haussman, Carleton University
Mr. David Chernushenko, Green & Gold Inc.
Dr. Louis Massicotte, Université Laval
Ms. Nancy Pickford, Equal Voice
Ms. Joanna Sweet, Carleton University

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