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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multi-level party politics : the Liberal Party from the ground up Koop, Royce Abraham James

Abstract

The organizations of national and provincial parties in Canada are understood to be separated from one another. However, it is not known whether this separation extends to the constituency-level organizations of those parties. In order to provide a better understanding of how national and provincial parties are linked at the local level (if at all), this thesis describes and accounts for the local organizations of the national Liberal Party and the provincial Liberal parties in sixteen national constituencies selected from the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Information from interviews with local party activists and participant observation in the ridings is used to develop a continuum of constituency-level party organizations. Descriptions of the activist bases, constituency associations, and local campaigns in each riding allow for each local organization to be placed along this continuum between integrated local organizations, which share important linkages between the national and provincial levels, and differentiated local organizations, where no such linkages exist. The placement of local organizations along this continuum is accounted for by (1) similarities or differences between the national and provincial party systems in the three provinces studied; (2) the actions of incumbent members of the national Parliament and provincial legislatures; and (3) characteristics of the constituencies. The patterns identified lead to a classification of four types of local organizations – One Political World, Interconnected Political Worlds, Distinctive Political Worlds, and Two Political Worlds – that illuminate the different forms of linkages between national and provincial parties that exist at the constituency level. This examination of the local organizations of the Liberal Party calls into question the academic consensus on the separation of national and provincial parties in Canada. Instead, the Liberal Party is characterized as an unevenly integrated party, where the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties are separated from provincial counterparts, but where the national and provincial parties on the ground are oftentimes integrated.

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