Political Knowledge, the Decision Calculus, and Proximity Voting

Authors: Shane Singh and Jason Roy

Published December 2013 in Electoral Studies 

Abstract: This paper employs an online voting simulation to examine how the vote decision process affects the vote choice. We focus on proximity voting, an empirically powerful but informationally demanding model of voter behavior. Holding contextual factors constant, we find that more politically knowledgeable individuals engage in a deeper and broader decision process prior to casting their ballot, and, in turn, a more detailed decision process boosts the likelihood that one will vote proximately. In addition, we find that detailed decision processes have a stronger link with proximity voting among the most knowledgeable individuals, who are able to skillfully engage with new information.

Explaining the Emergence of Indigenous-Local Intergovernmental Relations in Settler Societies: A Theoretical Framework

Authors: Jen Nelles and Christopher Alcantara

Published October 2013 in Urban Affairs Review.

Abstract: There has been growing interest among practitioners and academics in the emergence of intergovernmental relations between local and Aboriginal governments in Canada. Initial research has focused on describing the nature of these relations but has yet to develop any theoretical expectations regarding why some communities are more likely to cooperate than others. We addresses this lacuna by developing a theoretical framework for explaining the emergence of cooperation between Aboriginal and local governments. After identifying a set of variables and specifying how they are likely to affect the propensity of communities to cooperate, we conclude with a discussion of how future researchers might use this framework to investigate cooperation and noncooperation between Aboriginal and local governments in Canada and in other settler societies.

Le Québec: Marginal ou Avant-Gardiste?


Authors: Andrea Perrella & Brian Tanguay.

Published in Les Québécois aux urnes : Les partis, les médias et les citoyens en campagne, edited by Frédérick Bastien, Éric Bélanger and François Gélineau.

Publisher: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

Description: A chapter that provides a comparative look at changes to provincial party systems, published in an edited volume related to the 2012 Quebec general election.

Ideas, Executive Federalism and Institutional Change: Explaining Territorial Inclusion in Canadian First Ministers’ Conferences

Author: Christopher Alcantara

Published online on March 2013 in Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Official participation in Canadian First Ministers’ Conferences has long been exclusive to federal and provincial first ministers. In March 1992, however, the membership of this intergovernmental arena was expanded permanently to include territorial premiers. Using the tools of historical institutionalism and drawing upon relevant literature and eleven elite interviews with former first ministers and senior civil servants, this paper seeks to explain why this instance of incremental institutional change occurred. It finds that significant friction between the institutional and ideational layers of the Canadian federation during a period of mega-constitutional reform allowed federal, provincial and territorial actors to draw upon ideas about democracy and the political and constitutional maturation of the territorial North to expand permanently the membership of First Ministers’ Conferences.

The Dynamics of Intra-Jurisdictional Relations in the Inuit Regions of the Canadian Arctic: An Institutionalist Perspective

Authors: Christopher Alcantara and Gary N. Wilson

Published online on August 2013 in Regional & Federal Studies.

Abstract: One of the most exciting developments in Canadian federalism has been the emergence of Aboriginal self-governing regions. This paper constructs a theoretical framework for exploring the evolution of intra-jurisdictional relations in the self-governing Inuit regions of the Canadian Arctic. Intra-jurisdictional relations in these regions are characterized by a unique set of relationships between elected governments and organizations that represent the beneficiaries of land-claims agreements. Using the literature on historical institutionalism, we argue that the nature of Inuit intra-jurisdictional relations following the establishment of self-government can be explained by the institutional choices made prior to the signing of land-claims agreements and/or self-government agreements. To illustrate the potential of our framework for analysing Inuit intra-jurisdictional relations, we briefly examine the experiences of Nunavut, an Inuit-dominated region and the newest territory in the Canadian federation.

Fostering Critical Thinking about Climate Change: Applying Community Psychology to an Environmental Education Project with Youth

Author: Manuel Riemer and Livia D. Dittmer

Published online on March 2013 at Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice

Abstract: This article argues for the participation of community psychology in issues of global climate change. The knowledge accumulated and experience gained in the discipline of community psychology have great relevance to many topics related to the environment. Practitioners of community psychology could therefore make significant contributions to climate change mitigation. To illustrate this assertion, we describe an education project conducted with youth engaged in a community-based environmental organization. This initiative was motivated by the idea that engaged and critically aware youth often become change agents for social movements.  Towards this purpose, rather than using mass marketing strategies to motivate small behavior changes, this project focused intensively on a few youth with the vision that these youth would also influence those around them to rethink their environmental habits. This project was influenced by five community psychology concepts: stakeholder participation, ecological and systems thinking, social justice, praxis, and empirical grounding. In this article we discuss the influence of these concepts on the project’s outcomes, as measured through an evaluative study conducted to assess the impacts of the project on the participating youth in terms of their thinking and action. The contributions of community psychology were found to have greatly impacted the quality of the project and the outcomes experienced by the youth.

Preferences, Perceptions, and Veto Players: Explaining Devolution Negotiation Outcomes in the Canadian Territorial North

Author: Christopher Alcantara
Published April 2013 in the Polar Record

Abstract: Since the early part of the 20th century, the federal government has engaged in a long and slow process of devolution in the Canadian Arctic. Although the range of powers devolved to the territorial governments has been substantial over the years, the federal government still maintains control over the single most important jurisdiction in the region, territorial lands and resources, which it controls in two of the three territories, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This fact is significant for territorial governments because gaining jurisdiction over their lands and resources is seen as necessary for dramatically improving the lives of residents and governments in the Canadian north. Relying on archival materials, secondary sources, and 33 elite interviews, this paper uses a rational choice framework to explain why the Yukon territorial government was able to complete a final devolution agreement relating to lands and resources in 2001 and why the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have not. It finds that the nature and distance of federal-territorial preferences, combined with government perceptions of aboriginal consent and federal perceptions of territorial capacity and maturity, explain the divergent outcomes experienced by the three territorial governments in the Canadian arctic.

Mixing Politics and Business in the Canadian Arctic: Inuit Corporate Governance in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Authors: Gary N. Wilson (UNBC) and Christopher Alcantara

Published December 2012 in Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Over the past three decades, Inuit economic development corporations (IEDCs) have played an important role in preparing the Inuit regions of Nunavik in northern Québec and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories for self-government. In addition to building vital capacity through the provision of services, programs and economic opportunities, IEDCs have also represented their respective regions in self-government negotiations with other levels of government. This corporate-led governance approach, which we call Inuit corporate governance, provides Aboriginal groups such as the Inuit with a de facto form of self-government and the opportunity to develop economic and political capacity in advance of adopting a more comprehensive and formal self-government arrangement. It also challenges existing assumptions about the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the liberal–capitalist order that underpins the Canadian state.

UPDATE: Apparently, our article has been shortlisted for the 2013 McMenemy Prize, given annually to the best paper published in English or French in the Canadian Journal of Political Science.  The winner will be announced at the President’s Dinner at the annual meeting of the CPSA in Victoria, B.C.

Regions, Regionalism and Regional Differences in Canada

Authors: Christopher Cochrane and Andrea M.L. Perrella

Published December 2012 in Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: This article contests the concepts of “region” and “regionalism” in Canadian political science. There is widespread agreement among observers of politics in Canada that the country is divided in politically consequential ways along regional lines. There is little agreement, however, about what causes these regional divisions or, indeed, about where the lines of regional division should be drawn. As a result, rival explanations for regional differences in Canada are commonly tested against different evidence arising from different definitions of region. This article argues that “region” should be conceptualized in generalizable terms as the physical space that surrounds an individual, and that “regionalism” should be conceptualized as an affective attachment to the people, places and institutions within a geographic area. Regionalism, from this perspective, is a concept that plays an important role in driving regional differences in opinion differences rather than simply describing these differences. The article applies this argument to a study of regional differences in Canadian opinions about government involvement in the economy. The empirical analysis points to the need for the development of concepts that can be generalized across explanations and levels of analysis. Even on the single issue analyzed here, regional differences appeared to have different causes in different regions, and these different causes seemed to operate at different levels of analysis.

Indigenous Peoples and the State in Settler Societies: Towards a More Robust Definition of Indigenous Multilevel Governance

Author: Christopher Alcantara and Jen Nelles
Published online April 2013 in the Publius: Journal of Federalism

Abstract: Over the past fifty years, Indigenous peoples in settler countries have mobilized to demand policy and institutional changes from their respective states. Although some scholars have employed multilevel governance (MLG) to make sense of these developments, none has examined systematically whether MLG accurately describes these phenomena. We address this lacuna by creating a more robust definition of MLG and applying it to a sample of Indigenous–settler interactions in Canada. Our findings suggest that MLG is an applicable concept for some, but not for all of the Indigenous–state interactions that are typically assumed to be instances of MLG. This conceptual clarification should help scholars from a variety of countries to use MLG more effectively to analyze the relationships between Indigenous peoples and their respective states.

Race and Ethnicity in Canada: A Critical Introduction


Author: Nikolaos Liodakis and Vic Satzewich
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Description: a core text intended for race and ethnic relations courses offered out of sociology departments at both the college and university level. Covering the major theoretical approaches that are central to the field, including socio-biology, political economy, and critical “race” theory, students are taught to thoughtfully assess-rather than blindly accept-widespread claims about “race” and ethnicity.

Find it Here

Negotiating the Deal: Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements in Canada


Author: Christopher Alcantara
Publisher: University of Toronto Press

Description: This book provides the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of the factors that explain both completed and incomplete treaty negotiations between Aboriginal groups and the federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada. Since 1973, groups that have never signed treaties with the Crown have been invited to negotiate what the government calls “comprehensive land claims agreements,” otherwise known as modern treaties, which formally transfer jurisdiction, ownership, and title over selected lands to Aboriginal signatories. Despite their importance, not all groups have completed such agreements – a situation that is problematic not only for governments but for Aboriginal groups interested in rebuilding their communities and economies.

Using in-depth interviews with Indigenous, federal, provincial, and territorial officials, Christopher Alcantara compares the experiences of four Aboriginal groups: the Kwanlin Dün First Nation (with a completed treaty) and the Kaska Nations (with incomplete negotiations) in Yukon Territory, and the Inuit (completed) and Innu (incomplete) in Newfoundland and Labrador. Based on the experiences of these groups, Alcantara argues that scholars and policymakers need to pay greater attention to the institutional framework governing treaty negotiations and, most importantly, to the active role that Aboriginal groups play in these processes.

Comments welcome!

Seeing Like a Theorist

Author: Loren King.
Published online February 2013 in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

Abstract: Warren Magnusson sees a problem endemic to political thought and practice: we see the world in ways that presume and reaffirm the necessity of a sovereign territorial state, on pain of violent disorder in its absence. The solution is to ‘see like a city’, shaking off the dualism of sovereignty versus anarchy and finding a richer space of political possibilities. I admire and applaud Magnusson’s critical efforts to challenge dominant categories and illuminate possibilities, but these aims rest uneasily with his polemical contrast between sovereignty and cities.

Assessing Devolution in the Canadian North: A Case Study of the Yukon Territory

Authors: Christopher Alcantara, Kirk Cameron, Steven Kennedy.
Published in September, 2012, in the journal Arctic.

Abstract: Despite a rich literature on the political and constitutional development of the Canadian territorial North, few scholars have examined the post-devolution environment in Yukon. This lacuna is surprising since devolution is frequently cited as being crucial to the well-being of Northerners, leading both the Government of Nunavut and the Government of the Northwest Territories to lobby the federal government to devolve lands and resources to them. This paper provides an updated historical account of devolution in Yukon and assesses its impact on the territory since 2003. Relying mainly on written sources and 16 interviews with Aboriginal, government, and industry officials in the territory, it highlights some broad effects of devolution and specifically analyzes the processes of obtaining permits for land use and mining. Our findings suggest that devolution has generally had a positive effect on the territory, and in particular has led to more efficient and responsive land use and mining permit processes.

A Little Help from My Friends: The Partisan Factor and Intergovernmental Negotiations in Canada

Author: Anna Esselment.
Published online September 2012 on Publius.

Abstract: This article takes a new approach to the study of federal–provincial relations by arguing that in the conduct of intergovernmental relations in Canada, whether on major constitutional issues or the mundane, ordinary intergovernmental negotiations, partisanship has an effect. An examination of the Meech Lake Accord constitutional negotiations (1987–1990) and the Child Care Agreements (2004–2005) reveals that where traditional factors fail to provide a reason for conflict or cooperation between governments, the partisan variable offers valuable explanatory power. The impact is found in the process of federal–state bargaining and not in the substance of agreements themselves—in other words, partisanship can influence how an agreement is reached and whether it is kept.