Political Science - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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An analysis of the framing of monarchy within a contemporary democracy

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-08-21
Abstract: 

This project aims to establish a comprehensive dialogue concerning the contemporary dynamic between the term ‘democracy’ and the term ‘monarchy’. Utilising the theoretical orientation of ‘framing’ documented by George Lakoff and Murray Edelman, this project assesses the notion of a barrier to political discourse surrounding monarchy as a governance structure. The idea of democracy has taken on a moral and value-laden frame that encompasses perceptions of freedom, equality and legitimacy. Democracy as ‘ideal’ is tied to the dominant culture and history of the United States, as well as the liberal or procedural democracy espoused therein. The ‘ideal’ gives way to a space of what is not ideal, or an enemy of the ‘ideal’, termed within this project as the ‘other’. Monarchy is placed firmly within the frame of the ‘other’, existing in opposition to the ‘ideal’ within the notions of inequality, unaccountability, slavery and violence as order. Although monarchy is maintained within democracy amongst many constitutional monarchies, the oppositional framework stands. The pressure of these frameworks can be seen in international development with the example of Bhutan’s transition to procedural democracy, as well as internal state convention revealed by the rhetoric surrounding the Governor General’s decision to prorogue Parliament in Canada in 2008. By demonstrating the constructed nature of these established frames and the combative dichotomy that results between the notion of democracy and monarchy, this project shows that there is an obstruction to a merit based analysis of monarchy as a governance structure.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Andrew Heard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Balancing the dragon softly: formulating a pragmatic China policy for Canada

Date created: 
2013-07-22
Abstract: 

China’s rising power has raised many questions around the world as to how best to adjust to this historic event in our time. This debate is heating up particularly in the Asia-Pacific region where China’s military power is growing. Canada’s fellow democracies in the region have engaged in lively security policy debates about the rising Chinese power. Yet, Canada has not. Its policy discourse on China is largely limited to the question of how Canada should balance its concerns for human rights with its interests in trade when dealing with China. Consequently, Canada suffers from the lack of a systematic, realistic, and pragmatic security policy framework in formulating its strategy toward China, which would unify various activities pursued by Canada’s security policy community while taking into account the strategy of the United States, Canada’s key ally. This project attempts to fill this critical void in the policy literature. It advances a “soft-balancing strategy” that focuses largely on non-military measures in coping with security threats emanating from China. More specifically, it advocates that Canada should (1) foster further cooperation with its “Five Eyes” partners (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) in the field of intelligence and cyber security; (2) forge stronger ties with the Asian partners that share security interests vis-à-vis China; and (3) strengthen the existing policy regime to scrutinize inbound Chinese investment in Canada. While Canada should continue its engagement policy vis-à-vis China, it needs to be balanced with proper security measures in order to protect its security interests.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tsuyoshi Kawasaki
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Voter mobilization of low income citizens in advanced industrial states: the effects of party identification and programmatic party positions

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-18
Abstract: 

With electoral participation decreasing disproportionally among low-income citizens in advanced democracies, understanding factors that contribute to this decline becomes increasingly important. By distinguishing among various partisans, I reveal how programmatic positions of the dominant left party affect the mobilization of this cohort. A comparative empirical analysis reveals that strong partisans, weak partisans, and nonpartisans are more likely to vote when the left party is further left on a unidimensional policy scale. However, the effect of left party positions on turnout is strongest among weak partisans. When left parties become increasingly right in their position, the likelihood of voting among weak partisans becomes smaller than individuals with no party attachments. Thus, the effects of policy positions are influential enough to alter the positive impact of party identification on turnout. Furthermore, supplementary analyses indicate that the mechanism behind the voting behaviour of low-income voters is consistent with directional models of voting rather than proximity models.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steven Weldon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

The Pathology of Profitable Partnerships: Dispossession, Marketization, and Canadian P3 Hospitals

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-06-03
Abstract: 

Public-private partnerships (P3s) are increasingly used in jurisdictions across Canada to deliver public infrastructure and services. The need for new or redeveloped hospital infrastructure in particular has made this a leading avenue for P3 proliferation. The objective of this study is to analyze P3 policy and projects, principally in relation to the BC and Ontario provincial health sectors. The central arguments made are threefold: P3s are a unique form of accumulation by dispossession and public sector marketization; P3 projects are intrinsically unable to meet the promises made by proponents and carry several other negative social consequences beyond this; and P3 policy, though rooted in normative ideological assumptions and aspirations, is being normalized in BC and Ontario through the establishment of P3 enabling fields over the past decade. The concept of an ‘enabling field’ captures a constellation of new arrangements, notably capital planning procedures and legislative frameworks, supportive secondary reforms, and greater institutional support for privatization. Together these elements help routinize, institutionalize, and depoliticize P3 policy. Canada’s pioneering full spectrum P3 hospitals (where the private partner is charged with designing, building, operating, and financing the facility) are examined in detail: in BC, the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre and the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre; and in Ontario, the Brampton Civic Hospital and the Royal Ottawa Hospital. These cases reveal the troubling results that policy normalization ignores: poor value for money and inadequate risk transfer, misleading claims of ‘on time and on budget’ delivery, an erosion of service quality and working conditions, and opaque partnership agreements that offer little by way of accountability and transparency. These findings challenge the assumptions and rhetoric of P3 proponents, and offer different examples of how dispossession and marketization manifest in the public health care system.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen McBride
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The governance of public-private partnerships: success and failure in the transportation sector

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-05-22
Abstract: 

Since the 1970s, the focus of public policy in many countries has been redirected from the public provision of goods and services to an emphasis on curbing government spending and limiting bureaucracy. This has led to a proliferation of alternative service delivery arrangements, in which the private sector is involved in public service delivery. The term “governance” is now commonly used to signify this shift away from the hierarchical mode of government that had been applied in the past. For many supporters of alternative service delivery, increased freedom for the private sector is regarded as the key to successful governance. Public-private partnerships (P3s) are a family of alternative service delivery mechanisms that allow the private sector to finance, own, and deliver goods and services to the public through long-term contracts. P3s fit comfortably into the logic of alternative service delivery, which implies that by removing some elements of the public sector and replacing them with some aspects of the private sector, a balance between accountability and efficiency can be struck. However, this presents an inherent conflict, as the public sector is viewed simultaneously as the problem and as the solution to improving public policy. This inherent conflict can sometimes lead to governance failure, a phenomenon that is not sufficiently understood. By examining two case studies in P3 delivery of transportation infrastructure, the Canada Line in Vancouver, Canada and the Sydney Airport Link in Sydney, Australia, the conditions for governance failure can be explained. These two cases have similar technical parameters and political motivations, but in the Canadian case, where the public sector fostered policy networks, demonstrated policy learning, and employed a collaborative institutional approach to project implementation, successful governance was achieved. By contrast, the Australian case, in which the government was not substantially engaged in the partnership, resulted in governance failure. From an analysis of these two cases I conclude that public sector policy leadership is essential to the prevention of governance failure.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anthony Perl
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Peace and conflict in inter-group relations

Date created: 
2013-04-08
Abstract: 

The dissertation aims to contribute to the explanation of internal inter-group conflict, more narrowly of the conflict between majority and minority communal groups. It develops arguments that suggest the importance of inter-group economic inequality in bringing about inter-group hostility, and works toward providing empirical support for this causal connection by primarily relying on a large-N cross-national research design. This design culminates in multivariate regression models. Because of data availability issues, the task of addressing multiple potential determinants of the inter-group conflict advocated in the literature has been implemented by involving three datasets, of which two serve group-level analyses and one confines itself to the country level. The datasets are compilations of previous scholarly work, mainly based on the Ethnic Power Relations, Minorities at Risk (MAR), and Quality of Government data, with the addition of some new measurements, such as the main explanatory variable, economic inequality. Findings from all three datasets support the impact of horizontal economic inequality on inter-group hostility, measured either as group grievance or violent conflict. This double measurement of the inter-group conflict, as grievance and as violence, answers an intuition that not all low-to-medium strength hostility is doomed to develop into violent conflict. In fortunate conditions, the issues can be solved, or compromises may be reached without turning to violence. A large number of variables in the regression models operationalize constellations that influence the evolution of conflicts toward either peaceful solutions or armed collision. In general, the models provide support for previous expectations promoted in the literature regarding the beneficial impact of democracy and political equality of the groups, but also for the adverse impact of the opportunities for insurrection. Some institutional variables have been defined in ways that they allow for distinguishing between the outcomes of two brands of policies recommended for heterogeneous societies, as advised by Lijphart and Horowitz. Further benefits from the project include the construction of an almost complete list of communal groups worldwide, with 860 groups, which usefully contextualizes MAR’s selection of 282 minority groups. Data also allowed for comparing the causes of communal and social conflicts.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The politics of anomalies: policy formulation processes and the transformation of the industrial policy paradigm in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-04-02
Abstract: 

This thesis introduces a research programme to develop and test a theory for understanding the role of ideas in the policy process. By focusing on actors’ treatment of policy anomalies, the theory builds upon existing frameworks that map “orders” of ideational change using the concept of policy paradigms. The empirical section employs discourse analysis and process tracing techniques to explain industrial policy change in the province of Saskatchewan between 1970 and 1995. Using new analytical tools, this thesis explains how paradigmatic ideas may come to be dominant, hegemonic or contested, and how formulation processes came to yield the replacement of the industrial policy paradigm in many other jurisdictions but a much less consequential paradigmatic shift in Saskatchewan. The concluding section outlines the next steps of the research agenda and highlights areas in which discourse analysis may play a greater role in the policy sciences.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howlett
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Uncovering the judicial role in rights protection under the legal doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

In 19th century English constitutionalist Albert Venn Dicey's classic statement of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament can make any law whatever and no person or body has the authority to invalidate an Act of Parliament. In the Charter era, this doctrine continues to be invoked by supporters and critics of contemporary judicial review to signal a pre-Charter tradition of judicial deference to parliamentary policy choices regarding the definition and protection of rights. This view of the significance of the doctrine is challenged in this dissertation through a careful and novel re-evaluation of the role Dicey assigned to judges in the doctrine. Indeed, the interpretation of Dicey offered in this dissertation shows that common law judges have long been theorized to have a central role to play in defending common law rights under the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. Judicial control over the application of law in particular cases facilitates a central role for the judiciary in rights protection by allowing judges to interpret statutes to minimize their detrimental effect on common law rights. This dissertation offers a significant contribution to Canadian constitutional debate by focussing attention on the fact that the judiciary neither needs a bill of rights to play a key role in protecting fundamental rights, nor is prohibited from playing such a role under the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. In this dissertation, contemporary interpretations of the significance of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty for judicial rights protection are contrasted to the arguments of Dicey and his Canadian Depression-era critics who were concerned with the policy implications of the central role Dicey assigned to the judiciary in protecting common law rights. This dissertation challenges the common view that the Charter introduced a radical change in the role played by judges in protecting fundamental rights. In fact, constitutional scholars have long praised and condemned the central role played by judges in protecting rights through judicial control over the application of the law in particular cases. This dissertation highlights the extent to which academic conflicts over the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty are ultimately rooted in conflicts over more fundamental values.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

Building a norm: the banning of anti-personnel landmines

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Anti-personnel (AP) landmines have historically been used as a military tool. The humanitarian consequences of AP mines have generated support for an absolute ban on their use. Based on pre-existing principles of humanitarian law, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) campaigned for an international agreement banning AP mines. Canada and a group of like-minded states and NGOs provided the leadership and momentum necessary to gain a broad support for the Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits AP mines. The qualities of the treaty, including timeliness and unequivocal language have helped to create a norm against landmines within the international community. By surveying trends of recent landmine behaviour, this paper documents a trend of growing support and acknowledgement of the norm. This project will demonstrate how recent behaviour by many state actors is largely consistent with a constructivist explanatory perspective of international affairs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Would terrorists go nuclear? Motivation and strategy

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

This thesis is an attempt to assess the likelihood that terrorist groups would use true nuclear weapons if they had them. It is highly unlikely, although not altogether inconceivable, that terrorists could obtain a hnctional nuclear weapon unless they were directly state-supported. However, non-nuclear radiological dispersion or emission devices could be used. A well-hnded terrorist religious cult, such as Aum Shinrikyo, would pose the greatest risk of nuclear terrorism because it would not be constrained by law or conventional morality and would be undeterrable. The next most dangerous would be a religiously-motivated transnational group, such as a1 Qa'ida, which claims a divine mandate, has no fixed homeland, and has a small, dispersed constituency. Nationalrevolutionary or separatist groups would be least likely to use nuclear weapons because their homelands are vulnerable to retaliation and they could be constrained by their constituencies. Right-wing and single issue groups are 'wild cards'.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)