Michael J. Tucker Award
Established in honor of Dr. Tucker on his retirement in 2009, the Michael J. Tucker award is given annually to the student in Political Science with high academic standing and intellectual promise.
Charlotte Henderson 2016
Serena Retson 2015
Michael Flawn 2014
Rob LeBlanc 2013
Meghan Carter 2012
Hannah Saunders 2011
Fraser Harland 2010
First Recipient of the Michael J. Tucker Prize, 2009
Dr. Tucker and the first recipient of the Michael J. Tucker Prize, Matthew Park.
Mount A student examines women's representation in politics
In spite of the advances made by women in Canadian society, they are still underrepresented in elected positions. When Mount Allison University student Fraser Harland, from Camrose, Alberta heard about a local municipal council that was all women, he realized this was a perfect opportunity to do a study on women and representation at the local level. He was interested in whether women, once elected, represent the interests of women, what barriers exist to prevent women from representing these interests, and whether this example supports current political theories on women in politics.
Harland, who is a political science honours student, received a Universitas Summer Undergraduate Research Award to support his research this summer. He recently presented his findings at the Atlantic Provinces Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Harland also received first prize for his research at Mount Allison's Summer Undergraduate Research Fair in September.
At the local level in Canada, women make up 23 per cent of the elected officials, which is about the same as women at the federal and provincial levels. This places Canada at 48th in the world for the percentage of women in elected office. But the Village of Port Elgin, New Brunswick is a different story. In this small rural municipality their five-person council is entirely composed of women — the only such case in the province.
There is fierce debate in political science as to whether having a significant number of women in political office will have an effect on issues important to women. Harland says, "Some scholars argue women will represent women's interests more often than men would, although they acknowledge the importance of political parties in helping women to bring these issues to the table. Others argue that this critical mass of women will have little effect on how women's interests are represented."
The Port Elgin Village council certainly forms a critical mass of women. What Harland found was that at the municipal level, the barriers that prevent the advancement of women's interests are markedly different from those found at the federal and provincial levels. Dr. Tamara Small, political science professor and Harland's advisor on this project said, "This study is important because academics have made these claims about women and politics at other levels of government but it needed to be investigated at the municipal level."
"Ultimately the representatives of the Port Elgin Village Council do not substantively represent women but instead identify strongly as 'community trustees'," says Harland. The women have a strong commitment to civic ideals and to addressing issues of community concern. Harland argues that there are a number of reasons for this, an important one being the scope of what one is responsible for in small municipal governments. The issues also tend to be those that are gender neutral. For example, if there is a problem with municipal sewage infrastructure, this obviously will take priority and time from other issues.
Harland says simply having more of an underrepresented group will not make a difference unless the group is able or willing to act for their interests. "This shows that institutional reform, or requiring a certain number of women be elected, will not necessarily lead to the substantive representation of women," argues Harland. "But numeric representation and institutional reform are clearly significant for the democratic ideal of inclusiveness. If we hope for the interests of traditionally marginalized groups to be properly represented, then we have to find out why elected officials focus on some issues and not others."
Mount Allison student explores climate change policy in Washington State
Student completes internship with US senator as part of political science course
SACKVILLE, NB — Fourth-year Mount Allison University political science student and Seattle, WA resident Kevin Geiger spent last summer working as an intern for United States Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington. The internship is tied to an experiential learning course at Mount Allison that has Geiger working on a major paper connected to his work with the Senator.
Geiger worked in the Senator’s constituency office in Seattle He says, “We were the eyes and the ears for the Senator but we were also her voice when constituents came to hear about certain issues. There was a constant flow of information back and forth. It was an interesting dynamic.”
Geiger worked with Nate Caminos, the Regional Outreach Director for King County, Seattle. “Mr. Caminos walked me through the political process of working in the Senator’s office, the experiences and the practicalities and the issues that you need to deal with. It is one thing to learn by reading or by being in the classroom but to actually experience it first hand with someone guiding you was a wonderful opportunity. It has really broadened my interest in American politics and partners well with my studies at Mount A.”
As part of his job, Geiger prepared background reports and took minutes for meetings with many influential people in Washington State politics. He also assisted with the organization and planning of news conferences for Senator Cantwell.
According to Geiger the environment was a hot topic among constituents during the summer and was made especially relevant by the constant news coverage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Back at Mount Allison this fall, Geiger is working on a paper on climate change policy in the United States under the guidance of political science professor Dr. Tamara Small. It was a course on Canadian Federalism however that sparked his original interest in climate change policy.
“I was inspired by my course with Dr. Small where I researched the same topic in the context of Canada. In this paper, I am going to talk about why climate change bills are so hard to pass in the United States, which ties together nicely with the practical aspects of working with the Senator,” Geiger explains. “I could not have done the internship if it had not been tied to an experiential learning course at Mount Allison.”
Senator Cantwell is well-known as an environmental champion and along with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has introduced the Cantwell-Collins bill. The bi-partisan bill would create a program to regulate fossil carbon and promote renewable-energy jobs and economic growth.