Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Policy in Search of a Spokeswoman? Lessons from the Failure of Universal Child Care in Canada

This paper addresses a number of issues in comparative social policy through a detailed analysis of the Canada's brief flirtation with a national early childhood education program [2005-2007]. Despite garnering broad public approval and passing through all relevant political veto points, the program was ultimately terminated by the administration of conservative prime minister Stephen Harper at no perceptible political cost. Employing a methodology of analytic induction, I find that the ultimate failure of the program was in its promotion. Notably, the program lacked a credible female champion, allowing its opponents to characterize it as intrusive and paternalistic. I concurrently develop a theory of early childhood education reform as a policy in search of a spokeswoman. Accordingly, I present Germany, a country where universalistic ECEC reform succeeded on the strength of spokeswomen Renate Schmidt and Ursula von der Leyen, as a telling foil to the Canadian case.