Spring 2020 - POL 827 G100

Issues in Canadian Government and Politics (5)

Class Number: 5306

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5029, Burnaby



COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class explores a wide cross-section of issues in Canadian politics, through the lens of our constitution and the federalism system it creates.  This class offers a unique mix of experiences over the term and provides an opportunity to develop a number of very different skills: short-deadline in-class research assignments, speed reading, and oral presentations. Writing assignments cover a range of styles and tasks: a book review appropriate for an academic journal, “op-ed” commentaries that fit the style of newspaper editorial pages, and a research paper. Students may write their term papers on almost any topic related to Canadian politics and government.

To understand Canadian politics, it is important to appreciate why we have a federal division of powers, how the division between the federal and provincial governments has evolved over the years, what practical consequences flow from a federal division of governmental structures, how public policy is managed in a federal system, the roles of political parties, and why Canadian federalism has continued to be a focus of so much discontent.  

Federalism is a starting point in this class to examine a variety of issues in Canadian politics. The class will look at intergovernmental clashes over policy control that are played out through jurisdictional disputes and the power of the federal purse. The impact of the federal division of powers on public policies such as health care and the environment will be reviewed. The failure of the national Parliament to provide effective regional representation will be examined, especially with respect to the electoral system. Aboriginal self-government will be examined for potential changes that differing self-government proposals may entail. The class will also cover the strong challenge from Quebec nationalists seeking to reshape or leave the Canadian federation.


  • Book Review (1500 words) 15%
  • Essay (4000 words) 50%
  • 2 x Op-ed Commentaries (800 words) 10%
  • Oral Participation 15%



D. Brown, H. Bakvis and G. Baier (eds.), Contested Federalism: Certainty and Ambiguity in the Canadian Federation, Second Edition, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Robert Calderisi, Quebec in a Global Light: Reaching for the Common Ground, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html