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Budd, Biran. “Maple-Glazed Populism: Political Opportunity Structures and Right-Wing Populist Ideology in Canada.” Journal of Canadian Studies 55, no. 1 (2021): 152–76.


While initially immune to the outbreak of right-wing populism observed in other established Western democracies, recent elections and political developments at the provincial and federal levels of politics demonstrate that populism has entered the political mainstream in Canada. This article examines these developments in a broader historical context by charting the evolution of right-wing populist ideology in Canadian federal politics. Using existing genealogical frameworks of right-wing populist ideologies, the argument is advanced that contemporary populist leadership in Canada has largely developed to adopt the discursive and ideological tenets of what scholars have defined conceptually as neoliberal populism. The article positions this trend of ideological moderation as the outcome of institutional and medium-term opportunity structures inherent to Canada’s electoral and party systems. This relationship is demonstrated through an examination of the ideological evolution of contemporary Canadian right-wing populism beginning with the Reform Party in the late 1980s through to the People’s Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election. The analysis shows that, while initially championing exclusionary positions on multicultural accommodation and immigration, Canadian right-wing populists gradually revised their programmatical appeals through an embrace of neoliberalism as part of a purposeful strategy to try and extend their national electoral viability under Canada’s single-member-plurality electoral system. The article concludes by offering an analysis of the People’s Party of Canada and its promotion of radical right-wing populist ideology in the 2019 federal election. The argument is advanced that, rather than attributable solely to the transnational diffusion of far right ideologies, the emergence of the People’s Party is evocative of a domestic shift in medium-term opportunity structures that has helped to create ideological space for the mainstreaming of radical positions on immigration and multiculturalism in Canada.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.