Interest Groups

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Interest Groups: 15.3.2013

Globalization occurring at rapid speeds is having vast affects on the Canadian political system. The strong emergence and growing influence of interest groups, gained through institutionalization and immense monetary funding have proven to become a direct threat to political parties in the modern age. This essay will primarily discuss, “Pressure Groups: Talking Chameleons” written by Paul Pross. Following, the analysis of the article, “Wilderness Politics in BC: The Business Dominated State and the Containment of Environmentalism” written by Jeremy Wilson. And finally, discuss and evaluate the vital contents of both articles in relation to other academic sources.

Paul Pross identifies that modern governments in Canada have problems communicating with the public sector. Public debate was originally controlled by the government, however in the early 1970’s policymaking became more of a public process. Governments could no longer insist on withholding valuable information, and the public insisted on increased transparency. Electronic media has proven to be a large contributor in the sense that it has created an environment encouraging public participation and the notion of making groups less dependent on bureaucracies. This resulting in a diffusion of power, granting more influence to the public sector. Prior to the emergence of these interest groups, political parties were the main vehicle enabling citizens to channel their concerns mainly by elections and enabling communication to and from the government. Political parties alone would not suffice to account for the entire populations aggregated demands and thus governments continue to further support pressure groups to battle the constant problem of communication. Interest groups simply emerged as individuals acting together and attempting to influence public policy in the direction of their common interests. In some cases what originated as little organizations has now emerged into influential contributors to the policy making process. This raising concern that the Canadian democratic system is threatened by these emerging interests groups. Pross emphasizes that unless interest groups have access to substantial resources, their influence will be insignificant in most cases. Another factor which causes for some interest groups to survive and other to fail in the political system is undergoing the process of institutionalization. Pross defines an institution as a sophisticated entity, in which members have structured relationships, and collectively attempt to achieve a common goal. As Philip Selznick says, “As the institutionalization progresses the enterprise… becomes peculiarly competent to do a particular type of work.” The process of constant adaptation, and establishing connections to the government officials is of immense value in order for an interest group to partake in the policy process.

The sub government processes the policy issues, it consists mainly of government agencies however interest groups and large corporations are also included to a certain extent. The degree of inclusion is debatable however the interest groups are guaranteed “a seat on the table” and thus consult with the government on a daily basis. Ideally the interest groups gain influence in policy decision and thus for the benefit of the government can successfully accomplish the citizens aggregate demands. However as of 1993 party activists began to criticize the influence of interest groups since they were constantly winning concessions over political parties. There was a large amount of party antipathy coming mostly from the government itself in the sense reducing direct funding to interest groups, and limiting advertising groups during election periods. Kim Campell was a great contributor towards reducing the influence of interest groups, as she...
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