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Imposing a neo-liberal theory of representation on the Westminster model: A Canadian case

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The Conservative government in office in the Canadian province of Ontario between 1995 and 2003 offers a lesson in how the Westminster model can accommodate different interpretations of the role of the elected parliamentarian. The Conservatives espoused a vision of parliamentary representation, rooted in neo-liberal ideology, which held that the primary obligation of elected members was to respect their constituents' interest as taxpayers, superseding attention to any of their other multiple identities traditionally considered to be worthy of representation in the Legislature. The legitimacy of representative democracy was compromised when governments strayed from this norm. This analysis of the purposes of representation provided the intellectual framework for an ambitious restructuring of the Westminster model, most notably an unprecedented reduction in the size of the provincial legislature, as well as the elimination of the Legislature's historic control over its own electoral boundaries and composition.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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