A vast majority of Canadians think that advocacy groups are a better vehicle for change than are political parties. Members of such groups, however, are themselves often deeply involved in traditional political circles and party politics. Who participates in advocacy groups? Which kinds of groups dominate the political agenda? What influence does lobbying have on government? How can advocacy groups be made a more vibrant and accountable part of the political landscape in Canada?To answer these questions, Young and Everitt examine the ways in which advocacy groups contribute to or detract from Canadian democracy. They argue that group activity is an important form of political participation, often playing a crucial compensatory role for interests unrepresented or underrepresented in traditional political institutions. They also find, however, that groups with greater financial resources generally have better access to government decision makers, a trend accentuated recently by reductions in government funding. They conclude with recommendations for best practices in internal group organization and in efforts to influence public policy, as well as for ways that governments can engage in constructive consultation with groups.
Lisa Young is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary. Joanna Everitt is associate professor in the Department of History and Politics at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John.
Tables Foreword Acknowledgments 1 Advocacy Groups and Canadian Democracy 2 Perspectives on Advocacy Groups and Democracy 3 Who Participates in Advocacy Groups? 4 The Internal Life of Groups 5 Which Interests and Identities Are Mobilized? 6 Talking to Governments 7 Advocacy Group Involvement in Elections, Litigation, and Protests 8 Who Prevails? 9 Enhancing the Democratic Role of Advocacy Groups Discussion Questions Additional Reading Works Cited Index