Across the Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics

By David E. Smith

© 2013

How do parties with official opposition status influence Canadian politics? Across the Aisle is an innovative examination of the theory and practice of opposition in Canada, both in Parliament and in provincial legislatures. Extending from the pre-Confederation era to the present day, it focuses on whether Canada has developed a coherent tradition of parliamentary opposition.

David E. Smith argues that Canada has in fact failed to develop such a tradition. He investigates several possible reasons for this failure, including the long dominance of the Liberal party, which arrested the tradition of viewing the opposition as an alternative government; periods of minority government induced by the proliferation of parties; the role of the news media, which have largely displaced Parliament as a forum for commentary on government policy; and, finally, the increasing popularity of calls for direct action in politics.

Readers of Across the Aisle will gain a renewed understanding of official opposition that goes beyond Stornoway and shadow cabinets, illuminating both the historical evolution and recent developments of opposition politics in Canada.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 228 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Readers of Across the Aisle will gain a renewed understanding of official opposition that goes beyond Stornoway and shadow cabinets, illuminating both the historical evolution and recent developments of opposition politics in Canada.

Across the Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics

By David E. Smith

© 2013

How do parties with official opposition status influence Canadian politics? Across the Aisle is an innovative examination of the theory and practice of opposition in Canada, both in Parliament and in provincial legislatures. Extending from the pre-Confederation era to the present day, it focuses on whether Canada has developed a coherent tradition of parliamentary opposition.

David E. Smith argues that Canada has in fact failed to develop such a tradition. He investigates several possible reasons for this failure, including the long dominance of the Liberal party, which arrested the tradition of viewing the opposition as an alternative government; periods of minority government induced by the proliferation of parties; the role of the news media, which have largely displaced Parliament as a forum for commentary on government policy; and, finally, the increasing popularity of calls for direct action in politics.

Readers of Across the Aisle will gain a renewed understanding of official opposition that goes beyond Stornoway and shadow cabinets, illuminating both the historical evolution and recent developments of opposition politics in Canada.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 228 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘Smith, a leading scholar of the Canadian Parliament, has written an outstanding book on the theory and practice of parliamentary opposition in Canada… It will be of great interest to scholars of Canadian politics, and also to scholars of parliamentary institutions searching in-depth, reliable accounts of Canada’s parliamentary opposition.’
    R. Koop
    Choice Magazine; vol 51:07:14

    ‘David E. Smith does an excellent job documenting changes and related developments in the concept of both parliamentary and public opposition since confederation, and provides a thoughtful analysis of the many and varied reasons behind those changes.’
    Martha Hall Findlay
    Literary Review of Canada vol 22:03:2014

    "David E. Smith has produced an elegantly-written, tightly argued and timely scholarly book on the role of the opposition in our Canadian parliamentary democracy...This book will help inform the growing debate on how parliamentarians, including the opposition, can be brought back into the centre of the Canadian political system as our founders intended."
    The 2014 Canada Prize in the Social Sciences Jury

    “One of the best and most important recent books in Canadian politics is Across the Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics, by David E. Smith. It is a groundbreaking exploration of the role and evolution of a crucial part of parliamentary governance which, surprisingly, has been seriously understudied in the discipline. … The book will no doubt contribute to new research and prescriptions for change.”


    Emmett MacFarlane, Assistant Professor of political science, University of Waterloo
    University Affairs, December 3, 2014

    ‘In Across the Aisle, David Smith has done an admirable job of delving into a previously unexplored facet of Canadian politics.’


    Adam Coombs
    Histoire sociale / Social History vol 48:97:2015

    “This superb book examines a little-studied but essential part of the Canadian parliamentary system: the official opposition in the House of Commons, which the author describes as ‘the political corrective’ to the concentrated power of the government. Smith finds grounds for concern about the well-being of the opposition in the House, and hence about the well-being of Parliament itself. These concerns are not new, but Smith’s is the best study yet of this complex and disturbing phenomenon.”

    CES Franks, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University

    “Opposition is crucial to a vibrant democracy, but the concept has been largely neglected by Canadian political science. Now David E. Smith has filled the void with a masterly full length study of the theory and practice of both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition from Confederation to the present day. His reputation for meticulous scholarship and mature judgement is reinforced by this fine book.”

    Paul Thomas, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba

    “David Smith has done it again. Across the Aisle combines impeccable scholarship, elegant prose and astute judgment in a long-needed analysis of opposition in Canadian politics. Ranging from pre-Confederation coalitions to the implications of the 2011 federal election, Smith emphasizes what he terms ‘Canadian exceptionalism in the legislative realm,’ leaving little doubt as to the manifest shortcomings of opposition Canadian-style. Built on the premise that responsible government necessarily entails responsible – and effective – opposition, the book is primarily about parliamentary opposition, but it also incisively explores other forms of opposition in Canadian politics, including provincial governments, the media, and officers of Parliament. Agree or disagree with Smith’s always thoughtful take on the politics of opposition, no serious student of Canadian politics can ignore this book.”

    Graham White, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Author Information

    David E. Smith, FRSC, is the author of Federalism and the Constitution of Canada, The People’s House of Commons, and many books on Canadian politics. He is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University.

  • Table of contents

    PREFACE

    PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

    Chapter One: Opposition: ‘Somebody Has To Do It’

    PART TWO: PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION

    Chapter Two: From Coalition to Coalition, 1867–1920

    Chapter Three: The Liberal Ascendancy, 1921–1956

    Chapter Four: Minorities and Majorities, 1957–1992

    Chapter Five: The Mill of Opposition, 1993–2011

    PART THREE: CHALLENGES FOR PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION

    Chapter Six: Opposition, More or Less

    Chapter Seven: Opposition in the Federation

    Chapter Eight: Whither Parliamentary Opposition?

    PART FOUR: CONCLUSION

    Chapter Nine: The Problem of Parliamentary Opposition Today

    NOTES

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

     

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