Political parties are at the centre of Canadian democracy. Theychoose our prime ministers, premiers, and candidates for public office;they decide which policy issues are considered in the provincial andfederal legislatures; they dominate our election campaigns. As aresult, a democracy that is participatory, responsive, and inclusivecan only be achieved if Canadian political parties share these valuesand operate in a manner respecting them. In a concise and accessiblemanner, this book delves into the history, structure, mechanisms, androles of Canada's political parties, and assesses the degree towhich Canadians today can rely on political parties as vehicles forgrassroots participation.
With an emphasis on Canada's federal parties, Cross examinesparty membership, candidate recruitment, leadership selection, policydevelopment, election campaigning, and party financing. Throughout, hemaintains a clear focus on how well Canadian parties are serving theCanadian people, and, in keeping with the aims of the DemocraticAudit, interrogates their performance in terms of participation,inclusiveness, and responsiveness. In addition, the book also draws onthe experiences of provincial parties to provide a comprehensiveportrait of party life in Canada. Where appropriate, comparisons aredrawn with parties in other Western democracies.
A crucial and timely overview of political parties, this book willappeal to all those who seek a fuller understanding of the Canadianparty system. Those interested in how regular citizens participate inparty decision making will be particularly concerned with Cross'disturbing conclusion that our parties are falling short in terms ofbenchmarks set forth by the Canadian Democratic Audit.