Boucher, M. & Marland, A. 2023. Do Parliamentary Roles Affect Lobbying Activities? Evidence from the Canadian House of Commons, International Journal of Public Administration (Online)
In parliamentary systems, private members (i.e. backbenchers) with formal titles and roles can affect the institutional system in which politicians, civil servants and interest groups are embedded. Packing legislative institutions with backbenchers who act as agents of the government but who are not in Cabinet puts certain Members of Parliament in a privileged position with the core executive. We hypothesize that influential positions in Canada’s House of Commons, notably a parliamentary secretary tasked with supporting a minister or a chair of a parliamentary committee, bring increased external pressure from interest group lobbyists. We test these assumptions with data on communications between MPs and interest group lobbyists gathered from the federal Registry of Lobbyists and open data lists found on the website of the Parliament of Canada. Our results show that a parliamentary secretary position or a seat on a standard committee exposes MPs to higher lobbying volumes.
BOUCHER, M. 2015. L’EFFET WESTMINSTER: LES CIBLES ET LES STRATÉGIES DE LOBBYING DANS LE SYSTÈME PARLEMENTAIRE CANADIEN. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 48(4): 839–861.
This research tests the hypothesis that lobbying activities in Canada are primarily aimed at the members of the executive branch. It uses the data of the Canadian lobbying registry to measure the number of contacts between lobbyists and public office holders between the summer of 2008 and the summer of 2013. The results indicate that the majority of lobbying activities are aimed at the executive branch. However, it appears that the House of Commons is one of the most popular targets of lobbying activities. In fact, empirical evidence shows that numerous lobbying organizations are engaged in integrated strategies that consider both the legislative and executive institutions.
Boucher, M. 2018. Who you know in the PMO: Lobbying the Prime Minister’s Office in Canada. Canadian Public Administration 61(3): 317-340.
This research examines the relationship between lobbying organizations, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and other central agencies of the Canadian government. First, an overall examination of the Canadian lobbying registry shows that the PMO is one of the most lobbied institutions of the executive branch. Second, a statistical model evaluates the effect of organizational (such as the interest type and policy sector) and other strategic factors on the volume of communication between lobbying organizations and the PMO. This inquiry concludes that strategic choices related to the amount of lobbying activities and the scope of lobbying campaigns have the most consistent impact on the access to top‐level policymakers. In the end, the results support the claim that lobbying should be understood as a social, self‐reinforcing process unfolding over the medium‐ and long‐term.
Cooper, C. A. 2017. The rise of court government? Testing the centralisation of power thesis with longitudinal data from Canada. Parliamentary Affairs, 70(3), 589–610.
Using an original data set of deputy minister turnover in Canada’s provincial bureaucracies from 1920 to 2013, this research tests whether the relationship between a change in the first minister and bureaucratic mobility has shifted over time. Consistent with the centralisation of power thesis, the results show that the level of mobility following a transition in the first minister and party has increased since 1980. Moreover, whereas before 1980 only a change in first minister alongside a transition in party leads to increased mobility, since then, mobility increases alongside all newly elected first ministers, regardless of party change. This relationship is not found among unelected first ministers, who are believed to have a different relationship with cabinet and party members than elected first ministers.
Cooper, C. A., and M. Boucher. 2019. Lobbying and uncertainty: Lobbying’s varying response to different political events. Governance, 32(3): 441-455.
Does political uncertainty affect whether lobbyists contact government officials? We suggest that the answer depends on the type of uncertainty introduced. Distinguishing between policy objective uncertainty—where organized interests and lobbyists are uncertain about the policy intentions of decision makers—and issue information uncertainty—where policymakers are uncertain about the technical details of issues—we hypothesize that whereas an increase in policy objective uncertainty leads to a decrease in lobbying, a rise in issue information uncertainty leads to more lobbying. We test the hypotheses with longitudinal data from the Canadian Lobbyists Registry measuring change in the number of times lobbyists have contacted government ministries each month from 2008 to 2018. The results suggest that lobbying intensity does respond differently to these types of uncertainty. Whereas events introducing issue information uncertainty have a statistically significant positive relationship with lobbying, events introducing policy objective uncertainty do not.
Boucher, M., and C. A. Cooper. 2019. Consultant lobbyists and public officials: Selling policy expertise or personal connections in Canada? Political Studies Review 4(17): 340-359.
Recent research suggests that there are two different types of lobbyists: those specializing in providing access to their personal connections with public office holders, and those specializing in a particular policy sector. This research examines the actual behaviour of consultant lobbyists with data gathered from the Canadian Lobbyist Registry. Specifically, we probe two questions. First, using four indicators found within the literature, we investigate whether the behaviour of consultant lobbyists reflects the well-connected generalist or the issue specialist lobbyist. Second, we examine moving public office holders to see whether administrative officials – who make greater use of technical information – or politicians and partisan advisors – who are more interested in partisan/political information – are more likely to continue to be contacted by consultant lobbyists who contacted them in their previous position. Our results suggest that a more nuanced understanding of lobbying is required. While the majority of activities by consultant lobbyists are consistent with providing expertise to policymakers, a sizable minority of lobbyist activity is consistent with selling access to public office holders. Yet even here, our second analysis suggests that personal relationships may also involve the provision of expertise.
BOUCHER, M., AND COOPER, C.A. 2021. LOBBYING AND GOVERNANCE IN CANADA. Canadian Public Administration (64) : 682-688.
The insights this research has provided can be categorized into two overarching issues: • What characteristics define lobbyists, and what are their objectives? • How are the relationships that lobbyists have with political and administrative officials influenced by Canada’s political institutions? Intriguingly, just as early Canadian research on lobbying tended to be indirect, stemming from interest group studies, this new lobbying research is illuminating other essential issues of governance in Canada, including the centralization of executive power, policymaking in the face of uncertainty, and political accountability.
BOUCHER, M., AND C. A. COOPER. 2022. Lobbying and Democratic governance in Canada. Interest Groups & Advocacy (11) : 157-169.
This article introduces readers to the Lobbying and Democratic Governance in Canada (LDGC) research project. We describe the project’s origins and objectives as well as the types of information within the LDGC dataset, including data gathered from one of the most comprehensive and systematic lobbying registries in the world. We then review the methodological and theoretical contributions of research that have thus far come out of the project. Finally, we consider why the LDGC data will be of interest to international scholars whose research might not normally cover Canada. First, we identify unique aspects of the LDGC data compared to data used by researchers from other countries and explain how the LDGC allows researchers to investigate some, as of yet, unanswered questions about the nature of lobbying and the role it can play in modern governance. Second, we identify similarities between the LDGC and data used in extant research and consider how scholars can use the LDGC to engage in more comparative thinking about differences and similarities in the nature and role of lobbying across political systems.