Research Portfolio Post #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretivist Research

For my interpretivist research project, I am proposing to research Canadian parliamentary conversations on the Kyoto Protocol because I want to find out how the Canadian government came to the decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in order to help my reader understand why the Kyoto Protocol is not internationally implemented. I plan on conducting a discourse analysis of House of Commons debates and statements from Canadian representatives to the UNFCCC, looking especially at how climate change policy is framed, and the reasoning given for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol.

The first primary source I plan on analyzing is debates in Parliament on the Kyoto Protocol. For example, I plan to examine debates in the House of Commons from December 9, 2002, in which Stephen Harper gave a speech detailing his disapproval of him and his party to the Kyoto Protocol.[1] I chose this as Stephen Harper was the leader of the Opposition party, very publicly against the Kyoto Protocol and other international climate agreements, and would later be the Prime Minister of Canada during the time they formally withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.[2] This source helps me understand that there is a discourse at stake as it shows arguments within Canadian government, both in support and against the Kyoto Protocol and Canada’s adoption of it, which ultimately could have played a role in Canada’s decision to withdraw. This highlights my object of inquiry, Canadian governmental viewpoints on the Kyoto Protocol, as it shows policymakers from varying political parties and their opinions on the subject. The actors constructing these representations are the Members of Parliament (MPs).[3]

Another primary source I plan to analyze is the former environment minister, Peter Kent’s statement following the UNFCCC 2011 meeting in Durban, where Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.[4] In this statement, Kent gives reasons for the decision, citing expenses and economic repercussions of enacting policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions.[5] I plan to analyze the rhetoric utilized by Kent and the way it contributes to the framing of climate change policy as harmful to the economy and taxpayers (the representation of my object of inquiry in the text).[6] The actor constructing this statement explicitly is Peter Kent, but implicitly, the actors are his party backing and the prime minister at the time, Stephen Harper.

[1] “Hansard #41,” House of Commons. (Ottawa, Canada: GPO, 09 December 2002).

[2] Anne O’Connell, “Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover,” Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue Canadienne de Politique Sociale, no. 71 (2015): 116.

[3] Ibid.

[4] iPolitics, “FOR THE RECORD: Peter Kent … ‘Kyoto Is Not the Path Forward,’” IPolitics (blog), December 13, 2011,

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.