This is a book about British Columbia's party politics. In particular it is concerned with the provincial party system though the relationship to the quite different patterns of federal party competition in the province is never far from centre stage. We hope that those concerned to understand the province and its politics will find much food for thought and ammunition for argument in these pages.
At the same time this book is designed to explore the workings of what might be characterized as a model of polarized two-party competition. We have chosen to do this by focusing on party activists, those individuals who populate the party organizations, give them ideological content, and choose and constrain the leadership that carries the partisan battle to the wider electorate. Because our case is a Canadian one, we are also able to discover something of the ways in which party activists simultaneously relate to different party systems operating at distinctive levels of political life. The point of federalism is to make such a politics possible but too many studies assume that nationalizing party politics is necessary to make federalism work.
The political parties' activists are very much at the core of this book and we hope that we have made a contribution to understanding the men and women who stand between the politicians and the electorate. It is their commitment to democratic participation that sustains electoral politics in contemporary liberal democracies. Canadian political science has too often ignored them. By taking these grassroots politicians seriously as critical actors we can learn much about party organization and political competition.
In any large-scale project there are inevitably many people who are involved but whose contributions are really only known and