Populism in Canada: Observations from the 2019 Federal Election: Should We Be Worried?

Published: 2020     |    By: Anders Bretsen and Chelsea Tao |    Volume 68, No. 4


The authors present their findings after conducting extensive research on the nature of populism in the recent Canadian federal election, surveying a wide range of public statements from political candidates. These were compiled and assessed to determine whether Canadian democracy was risk of being eroded. Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky’s 2018 book, How Democracies Die, was used to establish benchmarks for what constituted a threat to democratic institutions and processes. Ultimately, there were no instances where Ziblatt and Levitsky’s thresholds were met – a positive but not entirely unconditional sign that Canadian democracy is in good health.

About the Author

Anders Bretsen is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a specialist degree in Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, with a minor in European Union studies. He is currently an intern at the CIC.

Chelsea Tao is a fourth-year Ethics, Society & Law and Criminology student at the University of Toronto. She is currently a researcher with the Reach Project, an initiative out of the Munk School that investigates how social services and development initiatives are delivered to the hardest to reach populations around the world. Chelsea is a 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar where she assisted with research and development of Indigenous-Settler policy at the Australian National University.