Dr. McGrane’s current research centers on the federal NDP, federalism, Canadian provincial politics, Canadian provincial public policy, and Canadian federal and provincial elections.
Canadian Social Democracy Study/Étude sur la social-démocratie au Canada
The electoral success of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) during the leadership of Jack Layton was stunning. In the 2011, the NDP scored a historic breakthrough as it formed Official Opposition for the first time and won a large majority of seats in Quebec where it had only ever won one seat in a federal election. The objective of this SSHRC-funded study is to explain the electoral success of the NDP under Layton’s leadership, with a particular focus on its unanticipated surge of popularity in Quebec. The project will also analyze the NDP under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair as it adjusts to its new role as the Official Opposition, grapples with the task of representing three-quarters of Quebec’s ridings, and prepares for the next federal election. The result of the project will be a book-length manuscript to be submitted to University of British Columbia Press and the creation of a network of academics studying the federal NDP. See www.canadiansocialdemocracy or www.socialdemocratieaucanada.ca for more information.
2011 Saskatchewan Provincial Election Study
Dr. McGrane teamed with researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy to do the first academic telephone survey following a Saskatchewan election. The survey, conducted by Social Responsibility Research Laboratory at the U of S, polled over 1000 Saskatchewan residents after the recent provincial election. Several students were hired to be interviewers for the survey which gave them practical and ‘hands on’ experience conducting academic research. The survey examined such issues as how engaged people were with the election, attitudes about democracy, what people thought of the leaders and the parties, whether Saskatchewan is still social democratic territory, and attitudes about aboriginal issues, organized labour, and internal trade. It attempted to go beyond the ‘horserace polls’ that are reported in the media at election time to examine the Saskatchewan public’s deeper feelings about important political issues and explore why people vote the way that they do. The results of the survey were reported through a series of newspaper stories in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and Regina Leader-Post and Dr. McGrane and his colleagues are in the process of publishing several journal articles using the data. See my publications page and the Saskatchewan Election Study website for all of the publications and research briefs associated with this survey.
Comparative Provincial Elections Project (CPEP)
Until now election surveys have focused primarily on Canadian federal elections so political scientists know very little about what drives voter behaviour during provincial elections. In acknowledgement of this gap in our knowledge of Canadian elections , a group of political scientists received a grant from the Social Sciences Research and Humanities Council to launch the Comparative Provincial Elections Project (CPEP). Along with additional funding from various universities, the team was able to conduct a post-election survey of voters over a complete cycle of provincial elections (i.e. one in each province) starting with the 2011 Ontario election and ending with the recent election in New Brunswick. The survey asked voters questions about policy issues, leaders, political parties, local candidates, media coverage, and their reasons for voting or not voting. See the Comparative Provincial Elections Project website and my publications page for more details on the survey and publications coming out of the survey.
Contemporary Canadian Political Theory
While a number of academics across Canada are currently producing research that could be considered ‘political theory’, there are very few edited collections that seek to bring this type of work together into a single book. Contemporary Canadian Political Theory, co-edited by David McGrane and Neil Hibbert, will provide a forum for scholars to engage with the broad international debates of political theory from a uniquely Canadian perspective. The premise of the collection is that the Canadian experience has something distinctive and special to offer contemporary debates in political theory on such issues as ideology, equality, democracy, nationalism, citizenship, multiculturalism, and justice. The collection of twenty original essays will be submitted for peer review to University of Toronto Press.