This chapter considers the descriptive representativeness of Canada’s political parties. Acknowledging that parties are multi-layered, the analysis isolates different cohorts of party adherents, including grassroots party members, activist members, local party presidents and candidates for public office. Comparing these groups to the parties’ voters and the electorate at large, the chapter finds significant overrepresentation of men, the better educated, financially well-off, and older Canadians at all levels of the party. The lack of representativeness becomes more severe as the level of influence within the party increases. The chapter then uses the case of gender to highlight the implications of this lack of representativeness within intra-party groups in terms of the significant underrepresentation of women, and others, in elected office.
Department of Political Science

Cross, W. (2019). Descriptive representation in local party associations and its implications for representation in parliament: Findings from the Canadian case. In Do Parties Still Represent?: An Analysis of the Representativeness of Political Parties in Western Democracies (pp. 15–30). doi:10.4324/9781351110952