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William Cross and Lisa Young, "The Contours of Political Party Membership in Canada," Party Politics, 10 (July 2004), 427-444.

First Paragraph:
One of the least studied aspects of Canadian political parties is the party member. The Canadian literature on parties is replete with studies of voters (Blais, 2002; Johnston, 1992; Nevitte, 2000), Members of Parliament (Docherty, 1997), constituency association officials (Carty, 1991), candidates for elected office (Erickson, 1997; Tremblay and Pelletier, 2000) and delegates to party conventions (Perlin, 1988). However, we know little about the grassroots members of Canada's federal parties.1 To begin to fill this gap in the literature, the Study of Canadian Political Party Members was launched in 2000. This study includes a significant data-gathering initiative in the form of a mail survey of members of the five major federal parties: the Bloc Québécois (BQ), the Canadian Alliance (CA), the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive Conservative Party (PC). The survey results are being used to study issues such as incentives to membership, party ideology, party democracy and the status of women in parties.2 In this article we present an overview picture of party membership by addressing the questions of who belongs to parties and what party members do.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Percentage of voters belonging to a political party*
Table 2. Party membership by gender
Table 3. Age of party members
Table 4. Year when members first joined their current political party
Table 5. Current employment status of party members
Table 6. Highest level of education completed
Table 7. Annual family income
Table 8. Percentage of party members who belong to an interest group
Table 9. Members' placement of themselves and their party on a 10-point left-right ideological scale
Table 10. Amount of time spent on party activity in average month
Table 11. Number of party meetings or functions attended in past year
Table 12. Percentage of respondents who have participated in the following activities

Last Two Paragraphs:
Given these findings, it is not surprising that voter confidence in the parties has reached record lows. When Canadians are asked to rate how they feel about parties on a 1 to 100 scale, the average rating has dropped by almost 20 points over the past 3 decades (Carty, 2000: 29). At the same time, voters' general confidence in their political system has also declined. An increasing number of Canadians believe that those elected to public office soon lose touch with voters, and similar numbers believe that governments do not much care about the views of regular folk (Carty, 2000: 28-9). Given the central role of parties in our political system, the dysfunctions of parties evident in the data recounted above likely bear some responsibility for this voter cynicism. The findings of our study paint a picture of parties as highly unrepresentative associations, with few members, and little vitality.