This week’s Hill Times includes a detailed article on my research into All-Party Groups (APGs) at the Canadian Parliament. APGs are informal groups that MPs and Senators establish in order to take collective action on a given policy issue or to promote relations with another country. The number of groups in operation has grown sharply both in Canada and in other Westminster democracies, such as the United Kingdom, and my dissertation seeks to uncover why.
I’m thankful to Mark Burgess for taking an interest in my research, and am quite happy to see the positive reaction from the others quoted in the piece.
This year’s Canadian Political Science Association conference was held at the University of Ottawa as part of the Congress of the Social Sciences and the Humanities.
I was part of an insightful panel on Parliamentary studies that included Gary Levy, former Editor of the Canadian Parliament Review, and Bill Blaikie, former MP and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.
My presentation focused on my research into the growth of “all party groups” at the Canadian Parliament. These informal groups are formed by parliamentarians who wish to cooperate on a given issue and typically receive support from external lobbyists or stakeholders. Drawing on a dataset I constructed tracking group creation as well as extensive interviews with MPs, Senators, journalists, and lobbyists, I demonstrate that the recent growth in the number of APGs results from a convergence of interests between MPs and lobbyists. For MPs all-party groups provide a way to connect with constituents, seek policy change, and develop a sense of personal relevance. For lobbyists, the groups offer a cost-effective means to distribute information to legislators, shape policy discussions, and ultimately influence government policy.
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