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Canadian Public Policy and Governance

Deepening our understanding of our own national institutions and political issues has intrinsic value. As a mature democracy with a diverse society, Canada serves as an important case study for learning about how political structures deal with local and global challenges. Canadian public policy and governance is one of the core research strengths of the Department of Political Science at the University of Windsor. Our faculty members’ scholarly works cover municipal, provincial, federal, and Indigenous governance. We have experts on social policy, foreign policy, environmental policy, and cultural policy in Canada. Our research critically assesses how Canadian political institutions function, with particular attention paid to parliamentarism, federalism, the judiciary, and the media. Please find below information on current projects that our faculty members are pursuing.

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Violence Against Women in Politics

Policy Expertise in Post-Merger Global Affairs Canada

The #Idlenomore Factor

Violence Against Women in Politics

Dr. Cheryl Collier and Dr. Tracey Raney (Ryerson University), in partnership with the non-profit organization Equal Voice ere awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grant worth $24,561 for their project "Violence against women in politics: building knowledge and networks to improve gender equality in Canada's legislatures."

In June 2017, the federal government announced a new strategy to address gender-based violence in Canadian society and all workplaces. The official statement refers specifically to Canada’s Parliament as a workplace that must be free from harassment and sexual violence, and it follows several recent incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment of Canadian female politicians by their male colleagues. Other female politicians in Canada have been threatened with physical and sexual harm and abuse on social media. While male politicians are also sometimes targets of online vitriol, the sexualized and gendered nature of these attacks suggests that harassment and violence against women are problems in Canadian politics and that they need to be taken seriously.

The overall goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of harassment and violence against women in politics in order to solve this problem in Canada. When women are politically underrepresented, public policies are less inclusive and democracy is weakened. As a likely barrier to women in politics, this study will help identify solutions that would prevent violence against women in legislatures, which will hopefully lead to more women entering into, and staying in, politics.

Policy Expertise in Post-Merger Global Affairs Canada

Dr. Jamey Essex currently holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant worth $107,350 for his research project Development, Diplomacy, and Expertise: Placing State Bureaucratic Labour in the CIDA-DFAIT Merger. In 2013, the government of Canada amalgamated two previously independent but related institutions, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), to form a new single department, now called Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The central question is how this merger of development, foreign, and trade policy institutions and personnel has altered the labour of professional officer-level experts and the role of policy expertise in the new department. Recent scholarship on political geography, diplomacy, and bureaucracy demonstrates the importance of looking more closely at the day-to-day work environments and strategic agency of professional expert labour in bureaucratic settings to understand how policy is made and executed, and to rethink longstanding questions about the relationship between agency and structure in statecraft.

Several themes have emerged from the ongoing merger process and are the subject of Dr. Essex's SSHRC-Funded research: the organization and exercise of expertise within the state bureaucracy; struggles over institutional culture in the merged department; the role of gender in the changing nature of development and diplomatic work; the geographic complexity of a national state institution with global reach; and the way the Canadian merger compares with similar moves in other donor states. Potential MA students with an interest in these topics may contact Dr. Essex at jessex@uwindsor.ca to inquire about the possibility of participating in this research.

The #Idlenomore Factor

Dr. Emmanuelle Richez was awarded in 2015 an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for more than $62,000 for a project titled The #Idlenomore Factor: Characterizing Twitter's Effect on Canadian Aboriginal Civic Engagement. Dr. Richez, along with co-investigator Dr.Vincent Raynauld, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Emerson College in Boston, examine how minorities use social media for political mobilization, potentially affecting policy development and identity building, focusing especially on the presence of the Idle No More movement in the Twitterverse. This movement, led by Aboriginal Peoples across Canada, emerged in December 2012 in reaction to policy proposals contained in omnibus Bill C-45. It seeks to mobilize Indigenous Peoples in Canada and internationally as well as their supporters to advocate change in policies pertaining to natural resources, governance, and socio-economic issues, by bringing attention to their identities, histories, and struggles. The project outlines ways in which #Idlenomore activists can mobilize effectively to achieve political goals. Some of its research outputs can be viewed here: projinm.ca