Guides, Guardrails, and Good Behaviour: Setting Up Canada’s Liberal Democratic System

Thursday, Oct 20, 2022

1:30pm - 3:00pm

Lecture by:
Dr. Anna Esselment

In large part liberal democratic systems endure when there are clear rules of the game. Canada’s initial set up to secure democratic representation and good government was no different. By borrowing the federal model from their southern neighbour and combining it with a system of parliamentary government, the authors of confederation were confident their new country would be well placed to protect democratic principles and ensure the representation of its citizens. This lecture aims to set out how the different pieces of our liberal democratic regime were put together, how they have evolved over time, assess their relative effectiveness, and ponder the challenges they currently face. The lecture concludes by suggesting that the Canadian system of government is a strong one, with relatively clear roles and lines of accountability. At the same time, the good (or honourable) behaviour required of those in power to adhere to the guides and guardrails of the system can ebb and flow, and this is where our democratic system may be most vulnerable to erosion.

About The Lecturer

Dr. Anna Esselment

Anna Esselment is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo. She earned her PhD at the University of Western Ontario where her research focused on the role of partisanship in intergovernmental relations in Canada. Broader areas of research and writing include political parties, campaigns and elections, political marketing, and Canadian institutions. She is currently working on a project that investigates political authenticity and Canadian politics. When not working, Anna spends a lot of time in ice rinks watching her children play hockey, and also walking her dogs, one of which is a Newfoundland!