Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Adams, Tracey L

2nd Supervisor

Huey, Laura


In the context of Canadian policymaking, the alleged ‘punitive turn’ demonstrated by the Harper government from 2006-2015 was extraordinary. Under this turn, punitiveness coincided with a rejection of empirical evidence (Kelly and Puddister, 2017; Doob and Webster, 2015 2016; Marshall, 2015; Newell, 2013 Mallea, 2010). The controversial bill, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, has been regarded as one of the most poignant examples of this rhetoric (Marshall, 2015; Newell, 2013). This thesis investigated the role of evidence and penal populism in policymaking through a content analysis of the legislative debates of the SSCA. Drawing on a neo-Weberian framework this thesis finds that the motives of state actors may be complex, balancing self interest with populism, and concerns for efficiency with moral values (White and Prentice, 2013; Stevens, 2011; Zhao, 2009; Faught 2007; Tickamyer, 1981).