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Public Brokerage: Constitutional Reform and the Accommodation of Mass Publics

  • Matthew Mendelsohn (a1)

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It is widely recognized that the traditional institutions and processes of Canadian politics, such as executive federalism, elite accommodation and brokerage parties have fallen into disrepute with large sections of the Canadian public, and political scientists have noted their failure to resolve long–standing conflicts in the area of constitutional politics. I argue that the reasons why these processes have failed to manage constitutional political conflict have not been properly diagnosed. In particular, Canadian political scientists have not adequately differentiated executive federalism from accommodation and brokerage, often assuming they are contingent on each other (as they are, by definition, in the commonly used expression “elite accommodation”). The pessimism among some Canadian political scientists about Canada's ability to amend the Constitution to the satisfaction of major groups stems in large part from the misplaced assumption that the brokerage and accommodation necessary in Canada require executive federalism. This conventional wisdom suggests that since executive federalism is discredited and has been replaced by a populist requirement for citizen participation, usually through referendums, shuns accomodation in favour of a mojoritarianism which is unable to deal adequately with the problems of a multinational federation like Canada.

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Public Brokerage: Constitutional Reform and the Accommodation of Mass Publics

  • Matthew Mendelsohn (a1)

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