A celebration of Professor Patrick Smith's retirement

January 03, 2023

With his retirement on January 1st, the Simon Fraser University Department of Political Science celebrates the career and contributions of Patrick J. Smith—known to everyone as Paddy. Paddy’s presence was felt so strongly over his 40 years at SFU that his retirement will leave us without one of the anchors our community.

Paddy has lived a rich and diverse academic life, migrating from Ontario’s farmlands to pursue his higher education at McMaster University, earning both his BA and MA there. He later moved to England to receive his PhD at the London School of Economics & Political Science. Paddy joined SFU in September 1982, after periods teaching at Acadia University and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and at the UK’s Open University.

While at SFU, Paddy has contributed in countless ways over the years, teaching courses in public administration, public policy, urban politics, and Canadian politics. He supervised dozens of graduate students over the years, offering friendship and guidance to set people up for the next stages of their lives and careers. Something I noticed over the years is that whenever I asked a graduate student who their supervisor was, and they said Paddy—it was always with a big smile!

Paddy’s energies have long benefitted many outside SFU as well.

He was a driving force behind creating the BC Political Studies Association and was elected its first President in 1995. The BCPSA was created to provide a collegial setting for political scientists in B.C.’s universities and colleges to gather for annual conferences and maintain professional links throughout the year. And it has continued to thrive over the years, thanks to Paddy’s continued interest and ever-ready willingness to help steer the Association.

Paddy has also long been associated with the B.C. Legislative Internship Program, serving many years on the advisory board helping to select interns each year, including 15 years guiding the program as its Academic Director. Paddy took this as more than just a title and was a mentor for a generation of B.C.’s brightest graduates as they negotiated the challenges of learning about and being engaged in B.C.’s public policy process, working first within a civil service department and then embedded in one of the caucus offices of a party in the legislature. In this capacity, he cemented many lasting connections with interns who have gone on to become leaders in politics, government, academics, and business.

Paddy’s academic endeavors have ranged across several areas of Canadian politics and government over the years, including constitutional and electoral reform, political parties, labour market policies, and Cascadia. Along with authoring many working papers and articles in a variety of journals, Paddy has been involved in a number of book projects over his career. He is the co-author of The Vision and the Game: The Making of the Canadian Constitution (Detselig, 1987), The Almanac of Canadian Politics (Broadview, 1991), and Ties that Bind: Parties and Voters in Canada (Oxford University Press 1999). And he was co-editor of Continuities and Discontinuities: The Political Economy of Social Welfare and Labour Market Policy in Canada (University of Toronto, 1994).

His great passion, however, has been sub-national government, particularly the politics and institutions of local and metropolitan government. He co-edited Metropolitan Governing: Canadian Cases, Comparative Lessons (Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2006). More recently, he left his mark by coediting along with Kennedy Stewart a ninth edition of Richard and Susan Tindal’s Local Government in Canada (Nelson, 2016). Given his deep interest in local politics, it is fitting that the Political Science Department shared Paddy in recent years with his cross-appointment to the Urban Studies Program.

Paddy leaves SFU with a great many fond memories of him built up over the years. We owe him a debt, not only for his years of administrative service, as Chair of the Department of Political Science and in other leadership positions, but most especially for his friendship and kindness as a colleague.

Thank you, Paddy! Here’s wishing you all the best for a happy retirement.