Municipal elections have consequences. Despite having no formal constitutional standing, local governments are responsible for a wide range of policies and services that directly affect citizens’ daily lives, including water and sewage, garbage removal, roads, fire, and police services, land use, social services, and public transit. Beyond this, the overwhelming majority of elections in this country are fought at the local level. Municipalities account for 99.6% of all governments and 95.8% of all politicians in Canada (even excluding school boards and special purpose bodies).
Despite the importance and ubiquity of municipal elections, we know little about these contests, or how electors reason and act at the local level of government.
The purpose of the Canadian Municipal Election Study is to fundamentally transform the state of municipal election research in Canada, undertaking a study of eight Canadian cities. Data will include surveys of electors and candidates for municipal office in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, London, Mississauga, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.
The project will capitalize on the immense diversity of Canadian municipalities to demonstrate not only the importance of local elections, but also the ways that municipal election research can inform our broader understanding of Canadians' voting and political behaviour.
The Canadian Municipal Election Study is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.