Interest Groups and Elections in Canada


133 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55002-098-6
DDC 324'.4'0971





Edited by F. Leslie Seidle
Reviewed by Eric P. Mintz

Eric P. Mintz is an associate professor of political science at the
Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Millions of dollars were spent by groups for and against the Free Trade
Agreement during the 1988 Canadian election. Should restrictions be
placed on interest-group spending during election campaigns so that the
contending political parties can present their messages to the public
without being drowned out by the voices of wealthy interests? Editor
Leslie Seidle addresses this question with this interesting collection
of essays.

Janet Hiebert (“Interest Groups and Canadian Federal Elections”)
thoroughly examines the issue, including the implications of the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms and the experience of other jurisdictions. After
a consideration of policy alternatives, she recommends that interest
groups be limited in the amount of money they can spend in promoting
their views on the issues, candidates, and parties during election
campaigns— limited to the extent that significant television
advertising expenditures would be disallowed, but not less expensive
means of promoting views.

Brian Tanguay and Barry Kay (“Political Activity of Local Interest
Groups”) point out, based on interviews with interest groups operating
at the constituency level, that “oppositional groups” (e.g.,
environmental groups) rather than business groups are more likely to
favor relatively unrestricted spending by interest groups. Although it
is the business-oriented National Citizens’ Coalition that has most
strongly opposed any restrictions on campaign spending, oppositional
groups view themselves as less able to influence the government through
traditional means, and thus are more likely to want to use elections to
make their viewpoints heard. Interestingly, while Hiebert provides
evidence that the massive pro-free-trade advertising had some effect on
the outcome of the 1988 election at the national level, Tanguay and Kay
provide evidence that the efforts of Campaign Life to support
anti-abortion candidates did not have a significant effect on
constituency-level outcomes.


“Interest Groups and Elections in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,