UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparative study of Canadian political party constitutions Miller, Hugh Lloyd


This thesis explores the constitutions of Canadian political parties. Thirty-seven constitutions were examined, twelve for both he Liberals and the New Democrats, ten for the Progressive Conservatives, and one each for the Parti Quebecois, the federal Reform party, and the Social Credit party in British Columbia. These documents were collected in 1990, and most were last amended in the latter half of the 1980's. Several charts were drawn up to summarize the contents of every constitution; these charts form a vast pool of data which this study seeks to analyze and interpret. Chapter Two endeavours to realize a sweeping overview of the contents and structure of the documents. Chapters Three and Four focuses on two of the most important and widely studied attributes of political parties, the selection of party candidates and the matter of party leadership. The patterns that emerged from this exercise were then examined in relation to three analytical perspectives; firstly, on the basis of the left-right position in the political spectrum, secondly, on a regional political culture dimension, and lastly, on an orientation that can be termed the "size" perspective. The study concludes that in relation to party constitutions three patterns appear to be the most significant. The New Democrats are distinct from the other two national parties. Also, parties in both Quebec and British Columbia stand out as distinct from those of the other provinces.

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