Partisan Odysseys

Canada's Political Parties

Table of contents


1. Four Party Types: Nineteenth-Century Party Politics
2. Imperialism, Continentalism, Nationalism
3. Industrialization, Urbanization, and Depression: The Rise of Third Parties
4. Parties of Warfare and Welfare
5. Minority Governments: The Diefenbaker-Pearson Years
6. Economy, Language, Unity
7. Trading Places
8. Division and Reconfiguration
9. Conservatism: Old and New

Conclusion: The Ever-Changing Party


In Partisan Odysseys, Nelson Wiseman sets out to survey the history of Canada’s political parties. Uncovering distinctive motifs and events in Canadian party politics from pre-Confederation to the present, Wiseman shows how parties have adjusted, adapted, and reinvented themselves in response to significant social and economic changes as well as how parties have, in turn, shaped or reinforced these social forces.


Partisan Odysseys is a timely celebration of Canadian-style democracy in an era of minority parliaments and the guillotine of surprise elections. It’s a first-rate observance of a hundred years of hell-raising. It makes you proud to be Canadian. ”

- Holly Doan

"Partisan Odysseys is well-written, engaging, and an important body of work that offers a condensed look at the history of Canada’s political parties. Partisan Odysseys ‘falls between the cracks of history and political science. It reflects a wide reading of materials and may be read as a history of the parties through the lens of Canadian history or as a history of Canada through the lens of the history of the parties. ’"


- Kate Malloy

"Partisan Odysseys: Canada’s Political Parties, by the well-known and respected political scientist Nelson Wiseman, summarizes the emergence, successes, failures, and fates of almost two dozen political parties from the early nineteenth century to today. Among the book’s many pleasures are numerous conclusions about national governance that are not generally accepted or well known. Those who know or know of Nelson Wiseman will not be disappointed by this work. "

- Ron Hikel