Grassroots Politicians: Party Activists in British Columbia

By Donald E. Blake; R. K. Carty et al. | Go to book overview
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The scores in Figure 3 were calculated by assigning a score to each respondent depending on whether he or she favoured substantial increases (+2), slight increases (+1), the status quo (0), slight decreases (-1), or substantial decreases (-2) in spending on education, welfare, and daycare. Respondents' numbers for each question were then summed and divided by three in order to create a combined score in the original range (of -2 to +2). A high score indicates greater support for increased spending and more resistance to cuts. The average scores on the resulting index were -0.2 for Social Credit delegates, 0.0 for Conservative delegates from BC, +0.2 for all Conservative delegates, +0.8 for Liberal delegates as a group and +0.9 for Liberal delegates from BC.

The pattern suggested by these scores is different from the distributions on the continentalist scale illustrated in Figure 2 only in the slight shift of the Social Credit activists to the right of the BC Conservatives and the increased distance between these two groups and the national Conservative delegates. The national and BC Liberals remain very similar. A majority (over 80%) of the Liberals, regardless of level, favour increased spending compared to 55 per cent for Conservatives as a whole and under 40 per cent for BC Conservatives and Socreds.


CONCLUSION

The Social Credit party rests upon a group of political activists who lean to a definite centre-right position on the political spectrum, exhibit homogeneity on some major issues, but are divided on a number of substantive questions including items related to government restraint and deregulation. They are also people with clear ideological links with Conservative activists in federal politics. The strength of the left may have helped drive federal and provincial party systems apart in British Columbia, but they have apparently not severed the ideological connections between the parties of the right.

The parties which have dominated recent federal and BC provincial elections have attracted activists with remarkably similar views. While Social Crediters are, on average, located to the right of federal Conservative activists, in fact they share that position with Tory activists from their own province. Here is some evidence of a division in activists' attitudes associated with the federal character of Canadian political life, at least for the Conservatives. But given the pronounced similarity in views between Tories and Social Crediters in British Columbia, this effect seems to be primarily a function of

-55-

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