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Left/Right Ideology and Canadian Politics

  • Christopher Cochrane (a1)

Abstract. This article examines the influence of ideology in Canadian politics. The core theory is that political opinions are bound together into ideological clusters by underlying influences that affect simultaneously the opinions of individuals about more than one issue. The central hypothesis is that ideological disagreement between the left and the right is asymmetrical, that is, that leftists and rightists bundle in different ways their opinions about issues. The analysis draws on evidence from Benoit and Laver's survey of experts (2006) about the policy positions of political parties, the Comparative Manifesto Research Project (Budge et al., 2001; Klingemann et al., 2006), and Cross and Young's survey of Canadian political party members (2002). The results of the analysis indicate, first, that Canada's left/right ideological divide is wide by cross-national standards, and, second, that leftists and rightists organize their opinions about the world in different ways.

Résumé. Cet article examine l'influence des idéologies dans l'environnement politique canadien. La théorie centrale stipule que les opinions politiques sur diverses questions sont structurées en groupes idéologiques consolidés par des influences sous-jacentes qui affectent simultanément les opinions des individus. L'hypothèse principale découlant de cette théorie est que la structure du désaccord idéologique entre la gauche et la droite est asymétrique; plus précisément, que les individus situés à la gauche et à la droite du spectre politique canadien organisent de manière différente leurs opinions politiques. L'analyse s'appuie tout d'abord sur les données d'un sondage auprès d'experts politiques réalisé par Benoit et Laver (2006) et portant sur les positions politiques des partis. Elle utilise également les données du Comparative Manifesto Research Project (Budge et al. 2001; Klingemann et al., 2006) et celles d'un sondage d'opinion de Cross et Young (2002) effectué auprès des membres de partis politiques canadiens. Les résultats de cette étude démontrent, en premier lieu, qu'il existe un clivage important entre la droite et la gauche au Canada même lorsqu'il est observé dans une perspective comparative, et en second lieu, que les individus se situant à la gauche et à la droite du spectre politique ont tendance à organiser de manière différente leurs opinions sur le monde.

Corresponding author
Christopher Cochrane, Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP), Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, CanadaN2L 3C5, email:
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Pamela J. Conover , and Stanley Feldman . 1981. “The Origins and Meaning of Liberal/Conservative Self-identifications.” American Journal of Political Science 25(November): 617–45.

William Cross and Lisa Young . 2004. “The Contours of Political Party Membership in Canada.” Party Politics 10(4): 427–44.

Gad Horowitz . 1966. “Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism in Canada: An Interpretation.” The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 32(2): 143–71.

Karl G. Jöreskog 1990. “New Developments in LISREL: Analysis of Ordinal Variables Using Polychoric Correlations and Weighted Least Squares.” Quality and Quantity 24(4): 387404.

Seymour M. Lipset 1986. “Historical Traditions and National Characteristics: A Comparative Analysis of Canada and the United States.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 11(2): 113–55.

Herbert McClosky and John Zaller . 1984. The American Ethos: Public Attitudes toward Capitalism and Democracy. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Nelson Wiseman . 2007. In Search of Canadian Political Culture. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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