Northern Populism: Causes and Consequences of the New Ordered Outlook

  • Frank Graves EKOS
  • Jeff Smith


This paper examines the issue of whether of not authoritarian populism – or what we prefer to label ordered populism – is a force in Canada. There is clear evidence in the international literature that this force has been a critical factor in explaining the rise of Donald Trump in America, Brexit in the United Kingdom and similar examples in other advanced western democracies. The paper attempts to clarify the key concepts under discussion based on a cursory review of the recent and historical literature. Using this literature, we identify the key forces that seem to be linked to the emergence of ordered populism in other societies. These include economic stagnation and the rising concentration of wealth at the top of the social system, a magnified sense of external risk, a cultural backlash against the loss of core values for those embracing this outlook and a broad sense of normative tension – that the broadest direction of society is moving in the wrong direction.


Using time series, we find clear evidence that the forces, which have been linked to the emergence of ordered populism, are evident in Canada. We then attempt to use more direct evidence that this force is in fact present in Canada. We measure public opinion as to whether the public believe it is here and whether it is a positive or negative force. We also use direct measures based on variations of indices that have been developed to measure this phenomenon. Using both of these measurement strategies, we find evidence that ordered populism is present in Canada and that it has been a major political force expressing itself in dramatically heightened partisan polarization (similar to what other researchers have found in the United States and the United Kingdom).


As a more definitive test, we applied the open-ordered index and related tests to the recently completed Canadian election. Our testing showed that this index was an extremely powerful predictor of the election outcome. We conclude with some thoughts on the broad policy implications for this research.

Research Papers