Amateurs versus Professionals: Explaining the Political (in)Experience of Canadian Members of Parliament

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    In contrast to many democracies that lament the rise of professional politicians, ‘amateur’ politicians have typically dominated federal politics in Canada. What explains this general lack of political experience among Canadian members of parliament (MPs)? This study tests three hypotheses on career development by analysing individual-level data on over 1000 MPs elected to the Canadian Parliament between 1993 and 2015. Conceptualising politics as a career path in its own right, it finds that at the key stages of establishing, maintaining and disengaging from a federal political career, there are specific challenges facing candidates and MPs in the Canadian context that are not significantly ameliorated by the possession of prior political experience. This leaves little incentive for individuals to work in the field of politics itself before standing for federal office.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)633-655
    Number of pages23
    JournalParliamentary Affairs
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2018


    • Political Careers
    • Political Experience
    • Professional Politicians
    • Representation
    • Career Development Theory


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