Legitimacy in question : elite-mass relations, constitutional reform and Canadian democracy /
Worden, Craig W.
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During the 1980s and 1990s, Canadian political authority orientations underwent a significant transformation. Canadians are no longer deferential towards their political elites. Instead, they are autonomous, challenging, and increasingly participatory, and this continuing trend has brought the procedural legitimacy of the Canadian political process into question. The following study of elite-mass relations within Canadian democracy attempts to provide insight into the meaning of this change and how it should be addressed. An attitudinalbehavioural analysis ofthe electorate presents evidence that popular cynicism and alienation is rooted more deeply in a dissatisfaction with political institutions and traditions than with politicians. A structural analysis of the elected political elite reveals the failure of consociational traditions to provide effective representation as well as the minimal impact which the aforementioned orientation shift has had upon this elite. An event-decisional analysis, or case study, ofelite-mass relations in the arena of constitutional politics augments these complementary profiles and illustrates how the transformed electorate has significantly restricted the elected political elite's role in constitutional reform. The study concludes that the lack ofresponsiveness, representativeness, and inclusiveness ofCanada's elected political elite, political institutions, and political traditions has substantially eroded the procedural legitimacy of Canadian democracy during the 1980s and 1990s. Remedying these three deficiencies in the political system, which are the objects of increasing public demand, may restore legitimacy, but the likelihood that such reforms will be adopted is presently uncertain in the face of formidable difficulties and obstacles.