Summer 2021 - POL 321 D100

The Canadian Federal System (4)

Class Number: 3296

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 14, 2021
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Development of the federal system including topics such as the division of powers, parties, federal-provincial relations and theories of federalism.


This course will build upon students’ existing knowledge of Canadian politics, in order to develop a comprehensive and critical understanding of Canadian federalism, past and present.

Discussion will combine an understanding of competing theories of federalism in the country with more concrete empirical studies. Major topics include the constitution and its evolution, the division of powers federally and provincially, mechanisms of dispute resolution, regionalism, and the role of parties in mediating politics and society across the federation. Specific empirical areas of investigation include heath and social policy, fiscal policy, environmental policy, and the place of aboriginal and municipal governments.

Course Format:

The three-hour class will include a mixture of lecture, small and large group discussions and debates, online activities, in-class presentations, and audio-visual content. At the conclusion of the course, students will understand the historical origins and subsequent evolution of Canadian federalism, and be able to analyze and critique various aspects of the contemporary and still-evolving Canadian federal order.

The lectures will be live via Zoom and recordings are available for students unable to attend live.


  • Participation 10%
  • Op-ed 20%
  • Policy memo 20%
  • Major paper 25%
  • Final Exam (Open book, 24hr Take-home) 25%



The course has one required textbook. 

Bakvis, Herman, Gerald Baier, and Douglas Brown. 2019. Contested Federalism: Certainty and Ambiguity in the Canadian Federation. 2nd edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada. ISBN: 9780195445909

Other readings available online.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112).