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Government And Political System Of Canada

1350 words - 6 pages

Federal political office in Canada has been monopolized by two parties, the Liberals and Conservatives (officially the Progressive Conservatives after 1942), although minority parties have been consistently represented in Parliament.The Two Major Parties. The continued preeminence of these two parties is attributable to the fact that they alone have maintained a sufficiently pragmatic approach to policy-making to attract wide support from the diverse regional, economic, language, and religious groups that make up Canadian society.Of the two, however, the Liberals have been far more successful in this century. A major factor in Liberal dominance has been its success in the province of Quebec, ...view middle of the document...

Their strategy of alternating party leadership between Anglophones and Francophones also served, whether by chance or intent, to affirm a symbolic commitment to Quebec.Minor Parties. Paradoxically, while the two older parties preserved their preeminence because of their success as conciliators, the rise of new parties was a response to failures at conciliation. The development of western Canadian agriculture, initiated by Sir John A. Macdonald, who held office for all but five years from 1867 to 1891, and successfully pursued by the Liberal administrations of Laurier from 1896 to 1911, bred conflicts between primarily western farm interests and business concerns in Quebec and Ontario. The farmers, frustrated by the failure of governments dominated by Quebec and Ontario to respond to their concerns, were finally driven to independent political action. In 1921 the populist, farmer-supported Progressive party won 65 seats in the federal Parliament. Yet disagreements among its members and improved economic conditions in the mid-1920s so undermined Progressive support that by 1930 the party had ceased to be a significant force in federal politics.During the Great Depression two new parties arose, both in the West. One of these, the Social Credit party, was founded on a mixture of utopian economic ideas (among them the notion that the economy could be restored to health by paying all citizens a "social dividend") and fundamentalist religion. Social Credit won control of provincial governments in Alberta (1937) and British Columbia (1952), but it achieved no significant success in federal politics until 1962, when it won 30 seats in Parliament, 24 of them from Quebec. But even as it gained its greatest parliamentary success the party's support in Western Canada, based on the declining "petit bourgeois" class of small farmers and small proprietors, was being eroded by the changing social and economic character of the West. By 1968 it had lost its last seat in Western Canada and was in rapid decline in Quebec. In 1980 it lost its six remaining seats in Quebec, and in the succeeding years it showed no sign of again becoming a significant presence in national politics, although it continued to be one of the principal competitors for provincial office in British Columbia.The other Depression-born heir to the Progressives, the Fabian Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), also had its first successes in Western Canada, but with working-class as well as farmer support, the party's appeal extended beyond its birthplace. It formed the provincial government in Saskatchewan in 1944 and in the federal election of 1945 won 16% of the popular vote. As a result of the implementation of a national social security system and post-World War II prosperity, however, the CCF was unable to consolidate this initial success.In 1960, faced with progressive electoral decline, the CCF reconstituted itself in a new relationship with the trade union movement as the...

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