Feb. 14, 2011
Interests, Representation, and Parties
Guest lecturer Mike Stein
1. Introduction: major issues involving the political role of interest groups in Canada
• Does the interest group system in canada provide an alternative avenue for citizen
representation in addition to that of parties and the electoral process and that of the media?
Are interest groups effective communicators of policy issues and of public concerns to the
political parties and leading government officials?
• are interest groups composed of narrowly based elites who promote unequal competition
and priority access to political decisions makers for a few privileged groups? or do they
represent a broad spectrum of the population in such lobbying activity?
• Do interest groups provide effective support for gvmt officials in implementing and
winning public approval for gvmt policies and legislation?
• how significant an impact has the lobbyist registration act had on regulations and reforming
interest group behavior in canada?
-difficult to observe and evaluate interest groups in Canada
-interest groups in Canada, because of nature of our parliamentary system tend to operate behind
closed doors, ie. public office buildings. corridors of power.
2. Definitions and types of interest groups:
• An “interest group” is an association of individuals which is designed to promote the
economic, social, cultural or other activities and interests of individual members of a
society by means of some sort of collective activity.
*a “political interest group” is any association organized to promote the interests of its
members through the exercise of influence on gvmt decision makers and on public policy.
Types of Interest groups:
• “institutionalized” vs. “issue orientated” interest groups (Pross)
• “institutionalized” well established permanent/stable groups
• “issue orientated” more spontaneous, based on particular issues
• evolving continuum in interest groups, see many emerging as issue orientated ie. climate
change led to green peace, attempt to deal with immediate problem led to more permanent
or mature interest groups that become institutionalized
• critique of Pross’typology (Burt 1990), Sandra Burt criticized it as too heavily based on
structures of interest typology , need for IG theorists to give priority not to structure but to
types of interests advanced in movement or group
• extension of typology (Finkel 1993) attempts to broaden typology, to new IG that have
emerged since charter of rights, such as public interest groups and charter groups.
3. Frameworks of analysis f