UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The traditions continue : leadership choices at Maritime Liberal and Conservative Party conventions Stewart, David Kenney


That leaders are important in Canadian party politics is almost axiomatic: they are the prime electoral resource, the ultimate policy authority and the focus of media attention. Yet little is known of what divides provincial parties when they choose a new master. The politics of provincial leadership conventions lie in uncharted waters. This thesis focuses on provincial parties, exploring support patterns at Maritime leadership conventions. The study draws primarily on data provided by unpublished surveys of delegates to Liberal and Progressive Conservative leadership conventions in the three Maritime provinces. These nine conventions took place between 1971 and 1986 and the delegate survey responses report the behaviour and attitudes of over 3100 party activists. The analysis develops provincial, partisan and secular comparisons. A framework for analysing delegate support patterns is derived from the literature on national conventions and Maritime politics. Application of this framework to the nine conventions reveals a recurring theme. Candidate support is best understood in a 'friends and neighbours' framework. Friends and neighbours refers first, to a non-factional geographic pattern of support. Simply put, delegates tend to support the local candidate, a neighbour. The second element of friends and neighbours support relates to ethno-religious ties. Candidates receive disproportionate support from delegates who are 'friends' in terms of shared religious or ethnic background. Friends and neighbours divisions were more important than attitude, age, gender or differences in social status: they were present throughout the period in each province and both parties. The importance of place and religion/ethnicity provide empirical evidence of Maritime traditionalism. The support patterns would be well understood by 19th century politicians and show no sign of dissipating. Attempts to link these patterns to age or level of education were unsuccessful. Virtually all delegates were influenced by the ties of 'friendship' or 'neighbourhood'. The major exceptions were ex officio delegates. These party professionals acting in a brokerage role were relatively immune from the friends and neighbours pull. By mitigating such divisions, ex officio delegates made substantial contributions to party unity. This thesis reveals a coherent and consistent pattern of intra party divisions in the region. It confirms the strength of traditionalism in the Maritimes and highlights an important manifestation of this traditionalism: ethno religious solidarity undercut by localism and mitigated by brokerage politics. Such findings are in sharp contrast to assertions that Maritime politics is changing.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.