Canadian Politics

A05(c) - Lobbying in Canada

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

Opportunities and Influence: Women’s representation and advocacy in the Canadian Senate: Erica Rayment (University of Calgary), Elizabeth McCallion (University of Toronto)
Abstract: The Canadian Senate is a promising venue for the substantive representation of women and other politically marginalized groups (Rayment and McCallion 2023). Weak norms of party discipline and the absence of electoral pressures mean that senators have greater latitude than MPs to act on behalf of surrogate constituencies, such as women – though these groups do not formally elect representatives, they nonetheless stake representative claims in the political sphere. Recent changes to the Senate appointment process have further reduced partisanship in the Senate, thus increasing senators’ latitude to advocate for surrogate groups. But to what extent do women’s advocacy groups leverage the Senate’s increasing capacity for the substantive representation of women? Are women’s advocates using the Senate as a venue in which to advance their policy goals? A recent analysis of contact records maintained by the Lobbying Commissioner showed that overall, lobbying directed at the Senate increased following changes to the Senate appointment process (Bridgman 2020). Drilling down into this larger scale analysis, we examine the lobbying efforts of women’s organizations and advocates before and after changes to the Senate appointment process to determine whether and to what extent extra-parliamentary women’s organizations take full advantage of the Senate’s representational role. This work contributes to the literature on women’s representation in legislative contexts, especially as it regards avenues for women’s groups to seek policy change. It opens the door for future research on the efficacy of women’s groups’ advocacy in the Senate.

Of Intermediaries and Guns: Lobbying in Canadian Military Procurement: Bryan Evans (Toronto Metropolitan University), Howlett Alexander (University of Canada West), David Chen (University of Toronto), Howlett Michael (Simon Fraser University)
Abstract: Military procurement represents both a strategically and financially critical step in modern states involving tens of billions of dollars in investment over decades of development and delivery, draw large amounts of public attention and are generally predicated on complex industrial and investment agreements along with needing to satisfy tactical and strategic requirements in a complex set of relations among multiple actors. Yet, defense procurement lacks an in-depth analysis of its lobbying dimension. We utilize the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada’s lobbying registrar dataset maintained to glimpse a general overview of how the major players in the sector operate: we find a high level of concentration in both the number of top lobbyists and the federal organizations lobbied. We also find a sharp difference between more politically-oriented and industry lobbyists in terms of their referents.

A parliamentary story: Interest group lobbyists’ interactions with MPs and political staff in Canada: Maxime Boucher (University of Ottawa), Alex Marland (Acadia University)
Abstract: The pace of political power shifting from rank and file parliamentarians to the leader’s circle has been intensifying in Canada as a growing number of political staff are integrated into government and caucus business. The increasing influence of staff and waning clout of backbench Members of Parliament invites questions about parliamentary democracy and accountability. In this paper, we test the theory of centralization by asking: do lobbyists engage with political staff more than MPs? Our analysis shows how meetings with lobbyists are distributed between political personnel and diverse categories of MPs, including backbenchers, ministers, and opposition parties. We use algorithms built within the “Lobbying and Democratic Governance in Canada” research project, which facilitate the standardization and cross-examination of political and text data coming from different sources, such as the list of legislative status and roles of Canadian MPs, found on the website of the Parliament of Canada, and data on lobbying communications gathered from the Federal Lobbyists registry. Computational methods were used to track and compare the volume of communications (2010-2022) between different categories of interest group lobbyists, MPs, and political staff. This paper contributes to knowledge about how organized interests access power in Canada’s parliamentary system of government and to what extent they communicate with political staff versus elected officials.