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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Abstract:The left/right semantic is used widely to describe the patterns of party competition in democratic countries. This paper examines the patterns of party policy in Anglo-American and Western European countries on three dimensions of left-right disagreement: wealth redistribution, social morality, and immigration. The central questions are whether, and why, parties with left-wing or right-wing positions on the economy systematically adopt left-wing or right-wing positions on immigration and social morality. The central argument is that left/right disagreement is asymmetrical: leftists and rightists derive from different sources, and thus structure in different ways, their opinions about policy. Drawing on evidence from Benoit & Laver’s (2006) survey of experts about the policy positions of political parties, the results of the empirical analysis indicate that party policy on the economic, social and immigration dimensions are bound together by parties on the left, but not by parties on the right. The paper concludes by outlining implications of left/right asymmetry for unified theories of party competition.
Abstract: This paper uses data from an online voting experiment to examine the impact of institutional socialization on the vote decision process. More specifically, we examine how Canadian and American voters differ in their vote decision processes in two- and four-party elections. Our expectation is that Canadian voters, who are more familiar with multiparty electoral context, will adjust to the increased complexity of the four-party competition by engaging in a more detailed decision process. Alternatively, we expect US voters, who are less familiar with multiparty competitions, will not undertake such an adjustment, perhaps even engaging in a less detailed vote calculus under more complex conditions. Results lend support to our expectations, offering insight into how institutional design and socialization can affect voter decision processes.
Abstract: Treatment motivation can be important for treatment adherence and outcomes, yet few measures of motivation are available for youths in mental health settings. These authors describe the psychometric properties of the motivation for youth’s treatment scale (MYTS), an 8-item measure with forms for youths and caregivers that assesses their problem recognition and treatment readiness. Results indicate that the MYTS offers practitioners and researchers a brief, psychometrically sound tool for assessing treatment motivation of youths and their caregivers. Multivariate analyses of clinical and non-clinical characteristics of youths and caregivers show that youths’ symptom severity consistently predicts treatment motivation for both groups. However, the strain of caring for the youth adds significantly to caregivers’ recognition of the youth’s troubles. While caregiver and youth motivations correlate, their agreement is low. Caregivers are nearly always more treatment motivated than youths. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for measurement, treatment planning, and future research.
Abstract: While academic interest in accountability and transparency mechanisms in Aboriginal governance has risen over the past few years, very few studies have examined how these mechanisms operate in practice. One author, Shin Imai, argues that Indigenous groups in Canada are faced with an accountability paradox that gives too much power to the federal government to intervene in band affairs, while giving too little power to band members to hold their local officials accountable for their actions. This paper examines the extent to which Aboriginal groups can avoid this paradox by reviewing three experiments in institutional design and self-government in Aboriginal communities: the Sechelt Indian Band and the Westbank First Nation in British Columbia, and Nunatsiavut in Labrador. While considerable variation exists in terms of how well these communities overcome Imai’s paradox, each community’s accountability regime is an improvement over the one imposed by the Indian Act. The effectiveness of these regimes depends heavily on the institutional designs chosen by the Indigenous groups.
Authors: Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown and Mark Pancer.
Published in February 2012 in Politics and Policy.
Abstract: In 1999, the Canadian province of Ontario joined a number of other jurisdictions in requiring its high school students to complete volunteer service before graduating. The primary objective of this program, and others like it around the world, was to address declining civic engagement within society. Using a quasi-experimental design, we explore the impact of mandatory volunteering on its stated aims. Our findings suggest that volunteering in high school has positive impacts on the political dimensions of a student’s subsequent civic engagement, measured here as political involvement, political activism, political interest, and political efficacy. However, those impacts are largely conditional on two features of the volunteering experience: sustained commitment to one placement and a positive experience as evaluated by the student. High school community service seems to be unrelated to social dimensions of civic engagement, measured here as involvement in a variety of social, cultural, and religious organizations.