Political parties are at the centre of Canadian democracy. They choose our prime ministers, premiers, and candidates for public office; they decide which policy issues are considered in the provincial and federal legislatures; they dominate our election campaigns. As a result, a democracy that is participatory, responsive, and inclusive can only be achieved if Canadian political parties share these values and operate in a manner respecting them. In a concise and accessible manner, this book delves into the history, structure, mechanisms, and roles of Canada's political parties, and assesses the degree to which Canadians today can rely on political parties as vehicles for grassroots participation.With an emphasis on Canada's federal parties, William Cross examines party membership, candidate recruitment, leadership selection, policy development, election campaigning, and party financing. Throughout, he maintains a clear focus on how well Canadian parties are serving the Canadian people, and, in keeping with the aims of the Democratic Audit, interrogates their performance in terms of participation, inclusiveness, and responsiveness. In addition, the book also draws on the experiences of provincial parties to provide a comprehensive portrait of party life in Canada. Where appropriate, comparisons are drawn with parties in other Western democracies.A crucial and timely overview of political parties, this book will appeal to all those who seek a fuller understanding of the Canadian party system. Those interested in how regular citizens participate in party decision making will be particularly concerned with Cross' disturbing conclusion that our parties are falling short in terms of benchmarks set forth by the Canadian Democratic Audit.