In Search of Canadian Political Culture

By (author) Nelson Wiseman
Categories: Political Science
Publisher: UBC Press
Paperback : 9780774813891, 360 pages, January 2008

Table of contents

List of Tables



1 Pathways to Canadian Political Culture

2 Surveying and Comparing Political Cultures

3 Constitutions and Institutions as Culture

4 Culture, Biculture, Multiculture, Aboriginal Culture

5 Regions and Political Culture

6 Atlantic Canada: Traditional Political Culture?

7 Quebec: Political Culture of a Distinct Society

8 Ontario: Archetypal English Canadian Political Culture

9 The Midwest: Social Democratic Political Culture?

10 The Far West: Parvenu Political Culture



Bibliographic Note



What do we really mean by phrases such as “western Canadian political culture,” “the centrist political culture of Ontario,” “Red Toryism in the Maritimes,” or “Prairie socialism”? What historical, geographical, and sociological factors came into play as these cultures were forged? In this book, Nelson Wiseman addresses many such questions, offering new ways of conceiving Canadian political culture.

The most thorough review of the national political ethos written in a generation, In Search of Canadian Political Culture offers a bottom-up, regional analysis that challenges how we think and write about Canada.


  • Short-listed, Outstanding Academic Title, CHOICE 2008


This erudite and highly readable text is an outstanding survey of the fabric of political life in Canada. … Throughout the book, Wiseman’s voice is assured, mature, and articulates his masterful command of vast sweeps of data and history. Wiseman’s major achievement is to bring together so many disparate and often incompatible ideas into a comprehensive and comprehensible piece of writing. … contingencies and paradoxes are engagingly teased out throughout the book and in the process Wiseman’s text itself becomes an impressive intellectual reflection of the very complexities and nuances he explores.

- Paul Nesbitt-Larking, Huron University College

Wiseman has written a superb book. … With its regional/provincial focus on political culture analysed in a comparative framework, it has unquestionably filled a major gap in our understanding. Finally, as a good book should, it leaves us with questions.

- Alan C. Cairns, University of Waterloo

Wiseman’s provocative book expands our understanding of policy options in Canada in a most novel way. …Wiseman turns and examines Canada regionally and uses the five waves of immigration the country has undergone since its beginning to define and to knit these regions together. What is unique is this thread of immigration that he weaves through his analysis. … Wiseman really sees Canada as a country of six regions. Unlike many scholars in the past, he does not seek commonality to overarch regional differences. … Based on secondary material, Wiseman offers a very useful, thought-provoking and fresh analysis of Canadian political culture. … Policy-makers in Canada will certainly find this book an essential read before embarking on their policy-making tasks.

- Kenneth Munro, University of Alberta

This volume is an excellent, comprehensive work on Canadian political culture. Wiseman approaches the subject through the prism of the country’s history while employing a broad framework that first considers the meaning of political culture and then covers institutions, the constitution, and the Canada’s regions, as well as their varied demographic components. Since immigration has played a critical role in the country’s development, Wiseman, an accomplished political scientist, meticulously traces the different perspectives each group brings to the Canadian context.

- P. Regenstreif, University of Rochester

Professor Wiseman has written two books in one, and both are interesting and of high quality. The first, comprising the initial five chapters of the work, is a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the concept “political culture. ” […] The second “book,” then, is a review of regional and provincial differences. […]The review of the social and political histories of the provinces, and the different cultures that those histories have produced, is extraordinarily ambitious, and the result is a tribute to Professor Wiseman’s wide-ranging knowledge, the acuity of his perceptions, and the scholarship of his research. […] this book is an extraordinarily readable and insightful treatment of the political cultures of Canada.

- Robert Drummond, York University