Work on Canadian Grassroots' Politics Up for Smiley Prize

Release Date: May 19, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "Politics is Local: National Politics at the Grassroots," a new book by Canadian political scientists Donald Munroe Eagles and R. Kenneth Carty, has been short listed for the Donald Smiley Prize, awarded annually by the Canadian Political Science Association to the best book published in the previous year dealing with Canadian politics or government.

The winner of the prize will be announced at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association in Toronto in June.

In the book Eagles, associate professor of political science and geography in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and Carty, McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia, explore the structure and activity patterns of constituency associations, the different kinds of candidates to which Canada's varied political terrain gives rise and the diverse electoral campaigns they run.

A unique aspect of the book, which was published by Oxford University Press in December, 2005, is that it offers a rare examination of the critical, but often neglected grassroots dimension of federal party politics in Canada.

"Virtually everything available on parties and elections in Canada focuses on parties as national organizations," says Eagles, "although the politics of most Canadians are driven by the idiosyncratic patterns of community life in Canada."

The authors make observations about the levels and impact of local campaign activity and fund-raising, the importance and local impact of the party leaders' tours and the coverage of constituency races by the media.

"Today, many argue that global forces are eroding the distinctive characteristics of local communities and that the only 'relevant' political activity takes place on the national scale. We have found evidence to the contrary," says Eagles.

"Every local environment has its own political ecology, and grassroots democracy is alive and well in Canada's constituency trenches," he says.

A political geographer, Eagles is the co-author of the "Almanac of Canadian Politics" (Broadview Press, 1992, 1996), and an undergraduate textbook, "Politics: An Introduction to Modern Democratic Government" (Broadview Press, currently being revised for a third edition). He also is associate dean for graduate studies in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

Carty, one of Canada's foremost authorities on political parties and electoral systems, is former chair of the Department of Political Science at UBC, Columbia, past president of the Canadian Political Science Association, and now holds the Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies in the University of British Columbia. He also is a senior fellow at Green College, one of UBC's graduate residential colleges.

The Smiley Prize is a memorial to the internationally renowned professor of Canadian government and politics, Donald Smiley, who was a president of the Canadian Political Science Association and professor emeritus at York University until his death in 1990.

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