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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
October 21, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Canadian Political Studies

If you want to study Canadian politics at the MA level, Laurier is the place to go!

The Canadian political studies stream at Laurier encompasses the major theoretical, methodological, and empirical dimensions of Canadian politics in such areas as Parliament, courts and the judicial process, constitutional law, federalism, local and provincial politics, political parties, elections and voting behavior, public policy and administration, the media and political communication, interest groups and social movements, diversity and identity politics, and Canadian foreign policy.

Advantages of the Canadian Political Studies option:

  • For a midsize political science department, Laurier has a very large number of faculty members who research and teach in Canadian politics, including Drs. Alcantara, Anderson, Kay, Perrella, Roy, Tanguay, and VanNijnatten.
  • Our faculty members are able and willing to supervise and advise on research that covers the entire gambit of the field of Canadian politics.
  • Faculty members believe in methodological pluralism and support both quantitative and qualitative approaches. In doing so, we combine rigorous theoretical inquiry with a keen interest in the practice of politics in Canada.
  • In addition to gaining a solid grounding in Canadian politics, our MA students are encouraged to explore and are exposed to other areas of political science including international relations, comparative politics, political theory, and political behaviour.
  • Graduates acquire research, writing, and communication skills that prepare them for careers in government (local, provincial and national), consulting, non-governmental organizations, and business, among other professions. Indeed, Canadian employers are often attracted to applicants who possess a solid understanding of Canadian politics.
  • The Canadian Political Studies option also prepares students for entry and success in major PhD programs in Canada. Our graduates have gone on to study in PhD programs at the University of Toronto, Carleton, and Western Ontario, among others.

To apply, visit:

Related courses:

  • PO618, Canadian Political Science: A Survey of the Field. This course surveys the Canadian politic science literature and assesses its theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions to the study and practice of politics in Canada. It is the core course for students in this stream.
  • PO620, The Politics of Social Policy in an Era of Globalization. This course explores the politics of social policy in Canada and across the world in an era of globalization. In doing so, it builds on the major theoretical contributions to the comparative study of welfare regimes (the varying ways states, markets, families and non-profit agencies deal with social rests), examining changes to these wrought by globalization.
  • PO631, Political Parties: A comparative discussion of party systems and the role political parties play in the electoral process.
  • PO632, Electoral Behaviour. An advanced seminar addressing the electoral process and the various factors that influence individuals' voting behaviour, with special emphasis on Canada and the United States.
  • PO670, Canada and the Global South. This course explores Canada's reputation, both at home and abroad, as a strong supporter and defender of Third World concerns. Some of the contradictions in Canadian policy toward poorer nations will be examined.

Suggestions for a Major Research Paper:

Students who pursue an MRP generally follow their own ideas and interests. The following are suggested by individual faculty members associated with the Canadian Political Studies field. Students are invited to contact any member to explore further ideas for a research project.

Suggested MRP ideas Contact
What explains why Indigenous groups engage in protests and confrontation?
Dr. Christopher Alcantara
Can Canadian federalism accommodate the aspirations of Indigenous peoples?
Can Canada increase its control over its borders without undermining the rights of immigrants and refugees in Canada?
Dr. Chris Anderson
Would the creation of continental Security Perimeter between Canada and the United States do more to challenge or bolster Canadian sovereignty?
How important is the environmental issue to Canadians in this time of greater economic stress?
Dr. Barry Kay
Does family structure and a mortgage account for value differences in different parts of Canada?
What is the role of minor parties in Canadian politics? Dr. Andrea Perrella
What explains any differences in political values among urban and rural dwellers?

Some graduate project topics in Canadian Political Studies:

  • Aboriginal Politics
  • Canadian Citizenship
  • Canadian Foreign Policy
  • Electoral Systems and Reform
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Federalism and Multilevel Governance
  • Immigration and Refugee Policy
  • Interest Groups and Social Movements
  • Language Policy
  • Members of Parliament and Legislative Careers
  • Multiculturalism
  • Municipal Politics
  • Parliament
  • Political Parties
  • Provincial Politics
  • Quebec Politics
  • Territorial Governance in the North
  • Voting Behaviour

Recently Completed Major Research Papers and Theses:

  • Trafford, Patrick. 2011. "Political Priorities: An Investigation of the Ipperwash Crisis." Supervisor: Christopher Alcantara; Second Reader: Jason Roy.
  • Spicer, Zac. 2009. "The Rise and Fall of Federal Engagement in Canada's Cities: An Urban Policy Networks and Communities Approach." Supervisor: Dr. Loren King; Second Reader: Dr. Debora VanNijnatten.
  • Campbell, Angela. 2006. "How Do We Get More Women In? The Problem with the Nomination Process in Canadian Political Parties." Supervisor: Dr. Brian Tanguay; Second Reader: Dr. Barry Kay; Third Reader: Dr. J. Newman.
  • Whyte, Sarah. 2006. "Rejuvenating Canadian Feminism: Moving Beyond Equality Moving Towards Justice." Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Brown; Second Reader: Dr. Brian Tanguay; Third Reader: Dr. J. Newman.
  • Katsirdakis, Laura. 2005. "The Limits to Multiculturalism in Canada: The Cases of Same-Sex Marriage, Sharia Law in Ontario, Kirpans in Schools and the Cartoon Controversy." Supervisor: Dr. Rhoda Howard-Hassman; Second Reader: Dr. Dejan Guzina; Third Reader: Dr. Debora VanNijnatten.
  • Kaur, Sharanjeet. 2005. "Impact of the Chaoulli Decision: Wait Times and Private Insurance Regulation in Canadian Provinces." Supervisor: Dr. Debora VanNijnatten; Second Reader: Dr. Brian Tanguay; Third Reader: Dr. Gerry Boychuk.
  • Blenkiron. Stephanie. 2004. "Southern Methodology in a Northern Context: Indicators of Social Well-Being in Nunavut." Supervisor: Dr. Ailsa Henderson; Second Reader: Dr. David Docherty; Third Reader: Dr. Steven Brown.

From our recent graduates:

"The Canadian politics stream provided me with a comprehensive understanding of Canadian political science. The core courses offer both breadth and depth in the societal and institutional aspects of Canadian politics, along with the methodological approaches to studying Canadian political science, ensuring that students with diverse research interests are well served by the program. I feel that the Canadian politics stream prepared me well for my PhD coursework and highly recommend it to others interested in pursuing research in the field."
Zac Spicer, WLU MA (2008-2009), currently PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario

"Coming into this program I had a strong background in a few specific areas of Canadian politics. Upon completion of my MA at Laurier I now have a strong and thorough understanding of the Canadian politics field. The courses offered at Laurier do an excellent job of covering the major and minor areas of, and approaches to Canadian politics. The depth of the Canadian politics program at Laurier is exceptional. As I prepare to enter my PhD program at Carleton University I am confident that my experience at Laurier has well equipped me to deal with the challenges I will face."
Matt Thompson, WLU MA (2008-2009), currently PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, Carleton University

"The Canadian Politics subfield provides a comprehensive and solid overview of current empirical and comparative approaches in the field. The faculty at Laurier includes some of the top specialists in the discipline and the faculty-to-student ratio is excellent. Aside from discovering new things about Canadian politics, it's a great specialization for anyone interested in an academic career."
Steven Kennedy, WLU MA (2009-2010), currently Marine Intelligence Officer, Transport Canada

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