Tag Archives: Political Science

  • Finding Our Way: The Future of Canada's China Strategy

    Amidst rising tensions over trade and technology, Living with China author Wendy Dobson's curiosity changed to alarm as she watched Canada get caught up in the growing antagonism between its two largest trading partners. Learn what led to her new book – and why she's urging Canadians to up their game with a solid strategy.


    Living with China is the latest in a series that began in 2009 with Gravity Shift, an examination of the long-term impacts of rapid growth in India and China. Canadians are the target audience and Canada’s relationship with China is the current focus. My initial motivation was curiosity about future directions in Asia that the new US administration might take. Curiosity quickly changed to alarm as Canada was caught up in the growing antagonism between the United States and China, its two largest trading partners. Long accustomed to a US-dominated unipolar world, Canada lacks a comprehensive strategy for living with an increasingly assertive China whose growing political and economic prominence in our future is a strategic reality.

    Since 2013, when Xi Jinping became President and General Secretary of the Party, he has made it clear that China will follow its own path of authoritarian capitalism even as China becomes more active in the liberal international order. He has inserted Party control deeply into China’s economic life even at the expense of openness, growth, and employment goals.  

    These competing goals have created significant tensions between market and state. Since 2017 the Party has responded to demands from the rapidly-growing middle class for more material and social gains. It has rebalanced policy to rely less on industrial growth and more on service-based, consumer-oriented growth. But the Party-state faces growing pressures from the US administration, which sees China as a strategic rival whose rising economic and political prominence it aims to thwart despite their deep interdependence. There are internal constraints as well. China’s technological and industrial innovation, which is essential to sustained growth, is constrained by the mixed signals sent by China’s authoritarian economic policies. Xi Jinping’s Made in China 2025 advanced manufacturing strategy relies on state-led directives and funding that dominate state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) incentive frameworks at the expense of riskier private, market-led, bottom-up innovations. Further, recent evidence of declining productivity growth in non-state enterprises relative to SOEs reflects shrinking support for market liberalization that could undermine China’s long-term economic potential.

    Canadian policy should take account of such tensions and their implications. As a middle power, Canada is acutely aware of being a policy taker in the diplomatic freeze following the US extradition request for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in late 2018. A comprehensive strategy for living with China should aim for coexistence and pursuit of mutual opportunities, yet be prepared to take stands to manage differences in values, norms, and institutions. The policy debate about Huawei’s 5G capabilities and related security concerns should be part of the evolving strategy of permitting trade to continue in non-sensitive items but imposing selective bans on sensitive equipment and processes. Even so, there will be a price to pay as Huawei and other Chinese enterprises expand into non-western markets and redouble their efforts to become self-sufficient in such key imported components as semiconductors.

    Canada’s China strategy should adhere to principles that include (a) recognition of the fundamental reset underway in the US-China relationship from engagement to strategic rivalry, (b) a stated commitment to maintain open relationships with both protagonists, and (c) cooperation with like-minded governments to push the merits of coexistence and reciprocity. The strategy should be transparent and led from the top. It should recognize that many Canadians are unfamiliar with China, a shortcoming that could be addressed in part by measures such as more civic and educational exchanges and by White Paper policy studies like those used by Australians in the past two decades.

    The China strategy should protect national sovereignty and national security in the uncertain international environment. Huawei’s funding of digital research in Canadian institutions has raised concerns about cybersecurity and protection of intellectual property. It underlines the importance of managing the relationships among security, trade, and investment. Canada should also become a more active player with middle powers in Asia to develop shared views and interests in regional security. Pushing for a multilateral governance structure in telecommunications that China would be attracted to join could be timely and helpful.

    When bilateral tensions ease, efforts should continue to build on the strong complementarities between Chinese interests in secure supplies of food and natural resources and Canada’s abundant supplies. Trade talks are also hampered by the diplomatic freeze and by restrictions imposed in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on FTAs with planned economies. Sectoral talks are an alternative. They could begin with liberalization in sectors such as clean tech where there is a high level of common interest and then move to more difficult topics as part of a ”living” agreement that promotes liberalization but allows exceptions for politically sensitive sectors.

    Another key strategic issue is China’s growing assertiveness as its influence grows. While bilateral engagement and accommodation are the strategic goals, it may be necessary to form multilateral alliances among governments and coalitions of civil society and the media. These alliances would make it possible to push back against Chinese influence and diversify trade in order to avoid heavy dependence on Chinese imports and civil exchanges.

    Normalizing Canada’s relationship with China is unlikely in the short term. Multilateral pressures on China are desirable to adopt laws consistent with global standards. Group pressures on both China and the United States are desirable to promote coexistence rather than the current zero-sum rivalry. All of these strategic elements will take time to develop and follow through. As other middle powers have found, living with China requires focus, patience, and determination.


    Want to learn more about Living with China?

    • Purchase your copy of the book.
    • Read an exclusive chapter.

    Wendy Dobson is the Co-Director at Rotman Institute for International Business and a professor emerita of Economic Analysis and Policy.

  • The Story Behind Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD

    In the lead-up to this year's Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, where authors Loleen Berdahl and Jonathan Malloy will be leading a Career Corner for graduate students, we are pleased to present some background information on their new book, Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD. Pick up your copy at Congress or order it online today!

    Jonathan Malloy, Professor and Chair, Political Science, Carleton University

    The issue of career paths for PhD students has received increasing attention in recent years. As someone who has been engaged on this topic since the 1990s, I am excited to see this conversation moving forward and to add my voice to them with a new book, Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD (University of Toronto Press, 2018). In this short and accessible volume, my co-author Loleen Berdahl and I offer practical advice to on how to navigate a social sciences or humanities doctoral program in Canada to lead to career success. It is both about doing a PhD and what to do with a PhD—and thinking about both from the start. One of the things that makes our book distinct is that we strongly advocate a seamless approach to PhD career development that does not require having to decide between "academic" and "non-academic" tracks.

    We developed this approach based on our own personal experiences. While we only met in 2014, both of us pursued PhDs in the 1990s being open to the idea of non-academic careers and taking a proactive approach to publishing, networking, and overall career development. After finishing her PhD, Loleen worked outside academia in a public policy role, a career path she greatly enjoyed. For my part, as a PhD student I worked in government briefly and began to write materials for doctoral student audiences, authoring a guide for incoming students in my program and an essay for The Bulletin (the now-defunct official University of Toronto newspaper) on the need for more work and attention to non-academic jobs for PhDs.

    I ended up in a position as a faculty member in a department with a large PhD program. Every year, I saw new waves of PhD students constantly struggling with the same issues over and over—not just about academic careers, but every aspect of their programs. I also realized that the mentality I had developed back in my own PhD years gave me a broad perspective and a lot of tacit and relevant knowledge that could be passed on. A particular moment for sharing this knowledge was in 2010, when “rumour blogs” became popular among many PhD students and junior academics, including some devoted specifically to Canadian political science (my discipline). These unmoderated bulletin boards responded to the genuine need and desire for career information and guidance in the sprawling and often opaque world of academia, but were ugly and disreputable—aggressive, often sexist, and defamatory. I decided to counteract this by creating my own blog, “Advice and Discussion about Canadian Polisci Jobs,” and for a year made weekly posts of career advice for Canadian political science PhD students and junior academics. The blog was well-visited and attracted commentary and discussion. I eventually ran out of fresh things to say every week, but the blog stayed up for years and continued to attract visitors.

    Loleen was mostly out of the academic world for ten years and while her work connected her to other PhDs working in a variety of non-academic environments, she was not actively engaged in doctoral career mentorship issues. But she later returned to academia with her position at the University of Saskatchewan, and in 2014 we were both elected to the board of the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) and met for the first time. After discovering our shared mentality and approach to PhD education and job opportunities, I sent Loleen a link to the blog. Loleen has a strong applied background in knowledge mobilization, and saw the potential for the blog to be expanded and updated to help promote much-needed discussion on the issue. She suggested it could be the foundation of a book, an option I had not previously considered. The idea for Work Your Career came together easily at that point, and Mat Buntin at University of Toronto Press was instantly receptive and supportive.

    Our engagement on this topic goes beyond the book to include research and outreach initiatives on career mentoring and development. Of particular note are our conference workshops for PhD students and recent graduates, doctoral supervisors, and interested faculty. After two decades of thinking about PhD education and academic mentoring, I find it encouraging to see a growing number of students and faculty looking at opportunities for doctoral students to prepare for multiple career paths. We will be discussing these ideas further at our Career Corner session at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences on Wednesday, May 30, and welcome all Congress participants interested in PhD careers to attend.

    Doctoral students, individual faculty, academic disciplines, and universities are paying growing attention to the career training and futures of Canada’s social sciences and humanities PhD students and graduates. I am happy to have Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD as part of the larger discussion.

    Jonathan Malloy is Professor at Carleton University.

  • European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective

    To mark the publication of European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective, the editors, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Achim Hurrelmann, and Amy Verdun, reflect on what led them to produce the first textbook on EU politics designed specifically for students who are unfamiliar with the EU, many of whom are from outside the EU.

    Achim Hurrelmann: “One thing that I found fascinating in producing our textbook is that our book is itself the product of European integration, having been edited by scholars who grew up in three different EU member states: Emmanuel in France, Amy in the Netherlands, and myself in Germany. And of course, the book also reflects on Canada as the country where we all moved to teach European politics, and which welcomed us with open arms. You both came to Canada about twenty years ago, ten years before me. How was it to teach your first courses on the EU?”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “When I started teaching, we actually did not focus on the EU as much as on Western European politics. At the time, we used a text that focused on four European countries and the construction of the European Community and the European Common Market. Because the European construction is so much a project in the making, it is hard to understand and follow how it is progressing. As a result, the process of European integration is really obscure for many people outside of the EU. What I found fascinating was to approach this textbook on the EU from that perspective, which is also our students’ perspective. Being in Canada, and having less exposure to EU politics than most of their European counterparts, our students have a knowledge gap. Hence, having the view of an outsider peeking into the European project, I thought, was just a wonderful idea.”

    Amy Verdun: “My experience was similar, and this is how the idea for this textbook was born. I first had the idea fifteen years ago, when I started coordinating a course on the EU that was multidisciplinary. I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a book specifically for this course?’ Then, as EU scholars in Canada started to cooperate more with each other through various projects, the broader contours of what such a book might look like started to emerge. In September 2009, I approached the University of Toronto Press with the idea for this textbook and they were immediately interested. I invited Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly to join me as co-editor. In May 2010 we organized a workshop in Victoria, BC where we presented the first versions of the chapters. In 2015 we invited Achim Hurrelmann to join us as the third editor.”

    Achim Hurrelmann: “In addition to the three editors, our contributors include many leading scholars from the EU studies community, which is very vibrant and active in Canada, but also exceptionally collegial. In this sense, producing this book was really a collaborative endeavor. It was not difficult to get our contributors to buy into the main objectives of the book.”

    Amy Verdun: “For the longest time, our shared experience with EU textbooks was that they were not really ideal for students whose primary experience has been outside the EU. Most textbooks are quite detailed and provide comprehensive overviews of its history, theories, institutions, governance, and policy making. We thought that a book that reduces complexity, hones in on the key issues, and does not demand much prior knowledge would be great for the courses on European integration that we teach here in Canada. We also chose a writing style that was very ‘light’ on references and refers instead to a list of references for further reading at the end of each chapter. Also, each chapter compares the issue at hand with what the situation would be in Canada—which as a federal state has some overlapping features with the EU polity. Furthermore, we have organized the text around three major themes: that the EU was created on the ashes of World War II in order to prevent another war; that the EU today has considerably more powers than a typical international organization but it falls short of being a state; and that the legitimacy of the EU is increasingly subject to debate. With all of these features, we hoped to be able to provide a text that students from outside the EU would find more digestible.”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “The core of our project is a text that allows students to learn about the EU with the added feature that it is written from the perspective of, and in comparison with, Canada. In each chapter, we provide a text box that details a similar process or policy in Canada. This provides students with direct references to another federal state, giving students an insider-view of the European Union from-the-outside.”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly is Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in Innovative Governance at the University of Victoria.

    Achim Hurrelmann is Associate Professor at Carleton University.

    Amy Verdun is Professor at the University of Victoria.

  • Canada and the Third World: Overlapping Histories

    To mark the publication of Canada and the Third World: Overlapping Histories, one of the co-editors, Karen Dubinsky, addresses the lack of available teaching materials on Canada and its relationship with the rest of the world, and how this helped motivate the publication of the book.

    Canada and the Third WorldI began teaching in the Queen’s History Department in 1993, and in 2008 I started a cross appointment with the Department of Global Development Studies. I was (and remain) enthusiastic about teaching students in what were some new research areas for me, namely Cuban cultural studies and Canadian/Global South relations. I approached my new courses with the same level of enthusiasm as when I began undergrad teaching over twenty years ago (laced, I’ll admit, with a dose of new-teacher panic). I spent a summer preparing myself to teach “Introduction to Development Studies – Canada and the ‘Third’ World,” a huge first-year class. I read up on the activities of Canadian missionaries and NGOs and mining companies. I re-acquainted myself with readings I had done years ago about issues in Canadian/Third World political economy: development aid, foreign policy, trade relations. It was fun to think about how to teach a course in contemporary global issues from the perspective of a historian; that is, focusing on the origins of things, as we do. I found some wonderful, richly researched and teachable articles and books from which to draw for my lectures. But I was shocked to realize that the last book that had been published on Canadian/Global South relations was from 1991. Of course there are plenty of fine studies about Canadian relationships with individual countries and regions, but there was no up-to-date synthetic overview I could use as a textbook. Even worse, the various texts that promised to explain “Canada and the World” typically paid virtually no attention to the Majority World.

    So what’s a teacher who believes that Canada’s relationship to The World goes beyond the US and the UK to do? Mulling this problem over with friends and fellow teachers Sean Mills and Scott Rutherford, who were experiencing the same incredulity at the lack of contemporary resources for their own Canada/Third World courses, we hit on the obvious solution. We wrote a book ourselves. We quickly disabused ourselves of the fantasy that this was something we could do alone, and we reached out to some of the many people whose work we have been reading and teaching in our classes. So eleven people, including historians, a community activist, and a veteran NGO researcher, have contributed to a book of essays we’re proud to introduce to our classrooms. Our essays cover topics such as Canada’s exclusionary immigration and refugee policies, development aid, the relationship between missionaries and NGO workers, Canadian mining companies overseas, foreign policy, domestic aboriginal policies, and Canadian/Third World solidarity campaigns. It is by no means the last word, but we hope it's a start.

    We think a book like this is necessary in our classes now—whether they are in the Development Studies world, or History, or Political Science or other related fields—because, as is often the case, our students are sometimes way ahead of us. This generation has far more direct experience with the Global South than previous generations have. Our undergraduate classrooms include increasing numbers of the Global South diaspora in Canada. We also teach students who have visited countries like Nicaragua or Ghana as volunteers, the complexities of which students should be encouraged to engage with. Every time Canadians use their cell phones or buy tropical fruits or send remittances or donate to an international charity, they are of course participating in Canadian/Third World relationships. We’ve realized that many of our students are actually quite aware of this relationship. It’s time our textbooks caught up.

    Karen Dubinsky is Professor of History and Global Development Studies at Queen's University. She is the author and editor of several books, including Within and Without the Nation: Transnational Canadian History (2015).

    Note: Canada and the Third World: Overlapping Histories, edited by Karen Dubinsky, Sean Mills, and Scott Rutherford, is now available. If you are scheduled to teach a course in which this book might be useful, please email requests@utphighereducation.com for an examination copy.

  • Comparative Federalism, Second Edition

    To mark the publication of the second edition of Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry, the authors, Thomas O. Hueglin and Alan Fenna, reflect on the process of updating their book. Their comments will hopefully provide some insight for those who underestimate the amount of thought and hard work that can go into a new edition of a book!

    comparative federalism 2eThe first edition of Comparative Federalism was received well enough, but we never actually thought that that would be the end of it. Indeed, we were talking about a second edition while reading the proofs of the first.

    Comparative federalism is a tricky business. In order to make meaningful comparisons, there have to be typological distinctions (based on our four models) and generalizations (“federalism generally does this, that, or the other). As there are 25 or 26 often very different federal systems in the world, one has to be careful about such generalizations—sometimes we had the websites for a dozen or more federal constitutions open simultaneously.

    There were a number of mistakes and omissions in that first edition that we obviously wanted to rectify. We think that we have done that but undoubtedly some new ones have crept in (publisher, beware: in time, we might suggest a third edition). The biggest surprise was the amount of work necessary for what turned out to be much more than we had bargained for by means of a simple update.

    First off, it wasn’t a simple update: so much had happened in the world of federalism since we concluded our work on the first edition. In some instances, such as the rejection of the European Union’s Constitutional Draft Treaty by the voters in France and the Netherlands, events were invalidating our narrative before the first edition was even in print.

    Second, our main motivation for that first edition had been to provide a systematic comparative framework meant to facilitate access to the complicated world of federalism for students and other readers. Consequently, focusing on our own conceptual approach, we kept to a minimum references to the literature and work of others. During the intervening years, however, there appeared such a wealth of new federalism literature that we felt compelled to acknowledge as much of it as we reasonably could. Our own understanding of all things federal has been greatly improved and enriched by that literature. This meant, though, that a lot of reading was required before we could even begin drafting our own new version.

    Third, and by no means last, there was a lot of conceptual agonizing about the new edition. Would our four basic models still cover an ever larger and more complex field? (We thought they did.) Had we been too optimistic about the promises of federalism as a solution to all the world’s ills? (We thought that we had been and therefore added a chapter on the limits of federalism at the end of the new edition.) And what to do about the chapter on federal governance, probably the least satisfactory chapter for the simple fact that a single chapter could not possibly do justice to the wide and variegated world of policy making in so many different federal systems? In the end we decided to scrap that chapter and replace it with a more focused chapter on fiscal federalism—perhaps the most crucial subject matter for the understanding of how modern federal systems work.

    The first edition filled a niche in the market, addressing the need for a book that could provide a systematic overview in a way that we thought should be empirically focused as well as historically and theoretically informed. There was no other book trying to do that and we believe there still isn’t. It’s a tall order and we hope that with each successive edition we do it a bit better.

    Overall, we had fun writing this new edition of Comparative Federalism even though it took most of our effort and attention for almost three years. As we both have been students of comparative federalism for many years, if not decades, the greatest benefit has been what we learned ourselves along the way. We now hope to pass some of that learning on to others.

    - Thomas O. Hueglin, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Alan Fenna, Curtin University

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