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Political Science Canadian

Across the Aisle

Opposition in Canadian Politics

by (author) David E. Smith

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2013
Canadian, Post-Confederation (1867-), Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
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    Publish Date
    May 2013
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2013
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    Publish Date
    May 2013
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How do parties with official opposition status influence Canadian politics? Across the Aisle is an innovative examination of the theory and practice of opposition in Canada, both in Parliament and in provincial legislatures. Extending from the pre-Confederation era to the present day, it focuses on whether Canada has developed a coherent tradition of parliamentary opposition.

David E. Smith argues that Canada has in fact failed to develop such a tradition. He investigates several possible reasons for this failure, including the long dominance of the Liberal party, which arrested the tradition of viewing the opposition as an alternative government; periods of minority government induced by the proliferation of parties; the role of the news media, which have largely displaced Parliament as a forum for commentary on government policy; and, finally, the increasing popularity of calls for direct action in politics.

Readers of Across the Aisle will gain a renewed understanding of official opposition that goes beyond Stornoway and shadow cabinets, illuminating both the historical evolution and recent developments of opposition politics in Canada.

About the author

David E. Smith, FRSC, is the author of Federalism and the Constitution of Canada, The People’s House of Commons, and many books on Canadian politics. He is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University.

David E. Smith's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘Smith, a leading scholar of the Canadian Parliament, has written an outstanding book on the theory and practice of parliamentary opposition in Canada… It will be of great interest to scholars of Canadian politics, and also to scholars of parliamentary institutions searching in-depth, reliable accounts of Canada’s parliamentary opposition.’

Choice Magazine; vol 51:07:14

‘David E. Smith does an excellent job documenting changes and related developments in the concept of both parliamentary and public opposition since confederation, and provides a thoughtful analysis of the many and varied reasons behind those changes.’

Literary Review of Canada vol 22:03:2014

‘In Across the Aisle, David Smith has done an admirable job of delving into a previously unexplored facet of Canadian politics.’

Histoire sociale / Social History vol 48:97:2015

“One of the best and most important recent books in Canadian politics is Across the Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics, by David E. Smith. It is a groundbreaking exploration of the role and evolution of a crucial part of parliamentary governance which, surprisingly, has been seriously understudied in the discipline. … The book will no doubt contribute to new research and prescriptions for change.”

University Affairs, December 3, 2014

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