The Origins of Canadian Politics: A Comparative Approach


129 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0260-X




Reviewed by Greg Turko

Greg Turko is a policy analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and


This short book deals with the complexion of Canadian politics. Why, for example, is patronage (to raise a timely issue) such an enduring feature of the Canadian system, and why is the Canadian system as stable as it is? These are important questions if we are to understand the capabilities, future, and shortcomings of our nation.

Gordon Stewart presents his analysis in two well-interwoven parts. First he makes the distinction between country and court or state politics. Country politics are exemplified by the United States while court or statist politics describe Canada with its centralized control. For the second element of his analysis Stewart deals with historical data, going back as far as 1688. In his discussion he draws freely on European events, Europe being important to Canada because it was the colonial master and because political ideas and trends tended to originate there.

The role of the American Revolution in shaping Canadian politics is also examined. A successful, republican revolution so near to Canada did much to instill fear, determination and a certain unique perspective into the fabric of Canadian political life.

Stewart has shown that Canadian politics, from the early European settlements to the present day, have shaped by some very definite ideas, forces and events. In his concise, very readable, and thoughtful book he has gone some distance toward explaining these forces. Anyone interested in understanding some of the unique features of the Canadian system would profit greatly from reading this book.


Stewart, Gordon T., “The Origins of Canadian Politics: A Comparative Approach,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,