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Canadian Political Science Association

The Canadian Political Science Association began its activities in 1912 and was incorporated under the Canada Corporation Act in 1971.

The Association has a Board of Directors and an Executive Committee. Its administrative offices are located in Ottawa and it functions in Canada’s two official languages. If you want to know more about CPSA’s history, read “A century-old association, with a youthful bent”.

Presidents and Presidential Addresses List of CPSA Presidents

Objects (as stated in the 1971 Letters Patent of Incorporation)

The objects of the Association are:

  • To encourage and develop political science and its relationship with other disciplines;
  • To hold conferences, meetings and exhibitions for the discussion of political science problems and the exchange of views in matters relating to political science;
  • To purchase, acquire, take by gift, any devise, bequest, or donation for the objects of the Association;
  • To give grants, scholarships or fellowships to deserving individuals or groups of persons in pursuance of the objects of the Association;
  • To publish journals, newspapers, books and monographs relating to political science.

The Association as such, will not assume a position upon any question of public policy not directly related to the discipline of political science or commit its members to any position thereupon.


The main purpose of the CPSA is to facilitate and promote the study of politics and government in Canada. Through varied activities, it seeks to connect students, researchers, journalists, practitioners, teachers and all individuals interested in the discipline to one another and to international resources for the study of politics and government.

The Association holds a large and well-attended annual academic conference within the framework of the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities1. At this event, top-notch research and learned papers are presented and discussed; national and international high profile keynote speakers are invited; panels are presented, other modes of communication are undertaken and diverse activities and competitions are organized to provide opportunities for enhanced academic engagement. The conference also plays host to a growing teaching, research training and curriculum development focus. In addition to workshops on formal training in advanced research techniques and methodology, the Teaching and Professional Practice Section includes sessions devoted to classroom activities, pedagogical approaches and innovations, and educational assessment.  

Through its peer-reviewed quarterly publication, the Canadian Journal of Political Science-Revue canadienne de science politique (CJPS-RCSP), the Association promotes the exchange of views on matters relating to political science and facilitates the growth, expression, and transmission of intellectually rigorous political science knowledge in and about Canada. CJPS’s evidence-based and theoretically informed articles are important tools for teaching in colleges, Cégeps and universities. Book reviews are also a source of information about new directions in the discipline and its diverse sub-fields.

The CPSA has a long-term institutional agreement with the Société québécoise de science politique. Since 1979, both associations conduct numerous joint activities including the production of the CJPS and the organization of public bilingual colloquia and events opened to the community. Together they foster research on and the study of government and politics of/in the francophone political science community in Québec/Canada.

The CPSA sponsors the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) and the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme (OLIP). These non-partisan programmes are independent of the Federal Government/Government of Ontario and of any political party. The PIP is an initiative of the Association that operates on Parliament Hill under the auspices of the Speaker of the House of Commons. Established in 1975, the OLIP is also administered by the CPSA and supported by a financial grant from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Students Support and Participation

  • Because of the termination of the SSHRC program that previously funded travel to the annual conference for students giving papers, in 2013/2014 the Association targeted its fundraising to this objective. Since 2013, it provides travel grants from its Development Fund to assist outstanding graduate students to come to the conference from distant places. The Development Fund was replaced by the Innovation Fund in May 2018. The latter will not only continue providing travels grants but also financing original academic activities within the conference and professional development opportunities for graduate students.
  • Graduate Student Representative sits on the CPSA Board of Directors to bring forward the views and concerns of graduate students. The Student Representative also organizes the annual gathering of the “Student Caucus” at the CPSA Annual Conference.
  • The CPSA awards the Vincent Lemieux Prize, named after the eminent political scientist professor Vincent Lemieux of the Université Laval, to the author of the best PhD thesis submitted at a Canadian institution, in English or in French, in any sub-field of political science.
  • A graduate student sits on the jury of the CPSA Prize for Teaching Excellence.
  • Since 2017, the Association organizes the PART-TIME STUDENT INTERNSHIP CPSA Secretariat – Communications competition to recruit a graduate or undergraduate political science student who is eager to gain valuable knowledge about the organization and academic life of our extended network of political science departments and practical experience in connecting with the Canadian political science community through social media.  

The Association also organizes the Chairs Meeting, which is an annual gathering of heads of departments of political science across Canada. In this meeting, chairs discuss about issues and trends in higher education; scholarly and administrative duties; teaching, research and service; the use of technology; working with faculty and administration; reviews; mentoring and professional development; and curriculum, teaching and Reconciliation. The CPSA also supports administratively and runs a program of services that keep its 54 affiliated departments of political science across Canada informed of job opportunities and issues of interest to the discipline.

In 2014, the CPSA’s e-newsletter POLCAN2 replaced the long-established POLCAN listserv. Since then, the e-newsletter’s subscribers have increased and its design and content have updated continuously. Today, POLCAN2 has almost 4000 subscribers; it is sent out every Wednesday and open to CPSA members and non-members. It brings postings, job offers and news from the Canadian political science community, an extensive list of departments specialized in different areas of social sciences, and useful information about disciplinary and multidisciplinary events and conferences provided by universities and associations around the world.

Canada’s settler-colonial foundation and the Indian Residential School system have cast a long shadow on the present. In response to the 2015 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which carry implications for teaching and research in political science, the Association’s Board of Directors created the CPSA Reconciliation Committee in 2016. The committee is currently producing an extensive Bibliography on Indigenous Politics in Canada, is developing a list of Resources on Indigenous Politics, and has facilitated the creation of Departmental Reps to help monitor the progress on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action.

Also in 2016, the CPSA Board of Directors created a new elected position, the Practitioner Representative, designed to better capture the perspectives of political scientists who do work outside academe. The first Practitioner Representative was elected in 2017.


The Association is a member of the:

  • Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • International Political Science Association (IPSA)
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

It has affiliations and exchange agreements with the:

  • American Political Science Association (APSA)
  • The Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA)
  • International Studies Association (ISA)
  • ISA-Canada
  • New Zealand Political Studies
  • Association Australian Political Studies Association
  • Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom

Through these affiliations, it organizes joint-sections in its annual conference (CAPPA and ISA-Canada); the participation of Canadian political scientists in international conferences through special “CPSA Panels” (APSA and ISA), and promotes the emergence, development, and maintenance of international research groups, networks, partnerships and writing teams. It also contributes to the development of multidisciplinary scholarly projects.

The Association participates in the annual meetings and Biennial IPSA World Congress. 

The CPSA is also affiliated with regional organizations:

  • British Columbia Political Science Association
  • Association Prairie Political Science Association
  • Atlantic Political Science Association

These affiliations facilitate communications and networking among Canadian faculty, teachers, researchers and students. 

Finally, the CPSA has established relations with the Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF) and the Canadian Philosophical Association – American Association of University Professors through its Canadian politics section.


The CPSA is a Registered Canadian Charitable Organization. It is funded in major part by its members’ fees, departmental memberships and by institutional subscriptions to the Canadian Journal of Political Science. It also receives grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the Journal and the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP). The Ontario Legislature Internship Programme (OLIP) receives most of its funding from the Ontario Legislature. Both internship programmes are also funded by private donors.

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