Canadian Politics Term Paper

Political Science 1119

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Term Paper Topics—Summer 2020

Choose one of the topics listed below for your paper. Note that the topics indicate broadly acceptable subjects for your paper. It is up to you to address a particular aspect of the subject and to formulate your own thesis statement. Accordingly, you have wide latitude to modify the topic to suit your interest. If in doubt, contact the instructor.

Due date:  MONDAY, JULY 6th.

Late penalty:  Late papers will be subject to a penalty of 5 percentage points a day.

Information on the format of the paper, and other matters, can be found in the document entitled “Term Paper Guidelines.”


1) Much has been written about the decline of the House of Commons.   What factors have contributed to its decline?  What steps can be taken to enhance its effectiveness?

2) Why did the constitutional reform proposals of the late 1980s and early 1990s ultimately fail?

3)  Has Canada’s federal system of government become too decentralized? Discuss.

4) Provide a critical analysis of the Liberal Party of Canada or the modern (post-2003) Conservative Party of Canada.

5) Discuss the relationship between organized labour and the federal New Democratic Party.

6) Describe the new process for the selection of Senators that was introduced in 2016 by the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau. Is this new process likely to quell demands for more fundamental reform of the Senate?

7)  In December 2008 the opposition parties resolved to defeat the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper and to replace it with a Liberal-NDP coalition government.  Was this bid for power a constitutional crisis (as Mr. Harper maintained) or a legitimate attempt to exercise Parliament’s right to make and unmake a government?

8)  What is the role of the monarchy in Canadian government? Should Canada retain the monarchy or abolish it?

9)  Is the notwithstanding clause (Section 33) of the Charter of Rights a necessary bulwark of democracy? Discuss.




Your paper should squarely address one of the topics set out in the list of approved term paper topics. See the document entitled “Term Paper Topics.” The paper should be 8-10 pages in length (about 1600-2000 words) using a 12-pt font size.

The following are some guidelines to assist you in researching and writing the paper.


Your paper will be evaluated both as a work of research and piece of composition. It will be graded (out of 30 marks) according to the following criteria:

  1. A) Organization (10/30)

(1) The paper should open with an introduction which contains a concise statement of the thesis (argument) of the paper. Examples of thesis statements:

  • “Canada’s decentralized federal system reflects the economic and cultural realities of the country.”
  • “The Liberal Party is a pragmatic rather than an ideological party. Its electoral success, until recently at least, can be explained primarily by its ability to adapt its policies periodically to satisfy the demands of a broad cross-section of Canadian voters.”

(2) After developing the argument through a connected series of points, close the paper with a conclusion which sums up the main points and relates them to the thesis of the paper.

  1. B) Clarity (5/30)

Present your points clearly and logically. Write the paper as if it were directed to a general, reasonably well-educated audience. Accordingly, be sure to define key terms (such “asymmetrical federalism” or “parliamentary sovereignty”). As the paper should be written in your own words, direct quotations should be used sparingly and only to advance or clarify your argument.

  1. C) Evidence (10/30)

Support your points with research and with rational, balanced arguments. As the essay topics deal with issues that are open to a range of plausible interpretations, be sure to acknowledge important viewpoints which run contrary to your own. Briefly evaluate them before moving on to your next point.

  1. D) Style (5/30)

Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation and be sure to provide references for all quotations and research sources used.  Sources must be cited with footnotes or endnotes (sometimes called “the Chicago style”) and must be listed in a separate bibliographyDo not use the MLA or APA citation format.

For details on avoiding plagiarism and on the correct use of footnotes or endnotes, see Guidelines for Academic Essays (Dept. of History, Latin, and Political Science: 2004) and Library’s concise guide to the Chicago Style of citation.

For guidance on correct citation, a more comprehensive source is The Chicago Manual of Style. 17th Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. It is available at the Reference Desk. It is also in the Reserve Book collection.


For those students with little or no recent experience in writing a research paper, the following is a suggested series of steps.

1) Choose a topic from the list of approved term paper topics.

2) Conduct brief research on the topic. For a preliminary list of sources, refer to the bibliographic references in the textbook and in relevant supplementary readings. Then search the library catalogue for additional materials.

3) Write a thesis statement.

4) Make an outline of the points you intend to make.

5) Start writing. You may need to conduct further research on specific points as you write your first draft.

6) Keep accurate notes of all library sources used so that you may compile a complete list of references. Avoid plagiarism! If in doubt, consult the Library tutorial entitled Avoiding Plagiarism. It explains what plagiarism is and how you can avoid committing it. See also How Not to Plagiarize, a guide produced by the Department of History, Latin, and Political Science.

7) Use at least four (4) different sources, citing appropriate passages from them through the use of footnotes or endnotes.

8) Revise and re-write your paper at least once.

9) Proof-read your final draft to avoid spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. In addition to using the spell-check function on your computer, you may wish to ask someone to proof-read the paper.

10) Keep a back-up file of your paper in case the one on your hard drive mysteriously disappears!

11) Submit the paper through the Assignment Submission folder (under the Assessments tab) on or before MONDAY, JULY 6th.

For more detailed guidance on conducting research and writing your paper, refer to Lucille and Mark Charlton. The Nelson Guide to Research and Writing in Political Science. 2nd Edition.  Nelson, 2013.

This book is on sale in the College Bookstore; it’s also available at the Library Reserve Desk.


Library Orientation: Online Tutorials

The Langara Library provides helpful tutorials on such topics as conducting research and evaluating web resources.


A growing number of full-text books are now available online.  Such e-books can be accessed through the College Library site at In the past, students had to request inter-library loans to obtain books not contained in the College’s own collection.

Inter-Library Loans

This service allows students to borrow library materials from other libraries. Unfortunately, the service is not available this term for physical books owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, digital materials may be obtained by submitting an ILL request.

Gibbs' reflective cycle in nursing

Web Resources

If your idea of online academic research is doing a Google search, or going straight to Wikipedia, think again! There are many more useful search engines and databases about which you should know.  Consult a Reference Librarian for advice—or check the College Library website.  For guidance, see the Library’s online tutorial, entitled “Can I Use This?  Evaluating Your Resources.”

Please note that it is NOT acceptable to cite Wikipedia as a source!

  2. A) Title page: Include on the title page the following information:
  • the title of the paper
  • your name
  • the course name and number
  • the instructor’s name
  • the date
  1. B) The paper should be double-spaced and typed in 12-point type.
  2. C) If using endnotes, place them on a separate page at the end of the paper, ahead of the Bibliography.
  3. D) The Bibliography should be on a separate page, after the Endnotes page (if applicable).
  4. E) Pages in the body of the paper should be numbered.

In the absence of a documented medical excuse, late papers will be subject to a penalty of 5 percentage points per day. E.g., if you hand in a paper 2 days late, and the paper is worth 75%, you would lose 10 percentage points and receive an adjusted mark of 65%.


If you have difficulties with composition and require assistance, visit the Writing Centre, an online service staffed by English instructors who are available to assist students with essay-writing problems.

There is also an online service to assist students with writing assignments: WriteAway.


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