Comparative Politics

Issue Responsiveness in Canadian Politics: Are Parties Responsive to the Climate Change’s Public Salience in Question Period?



Are political representatives responsive to their constituents in determining the issues they address? Our paper takes a novel approach to this critical question using innovative data and state-of-the-art methodology. While most previous research on issue responsiveness has looked at the United States and its unique political institutions, we study a multi-party, parliamentary setting: Canada. We focus our analysis on two prominent issues: the environment and climate change. Using transcripts from the House of Commons’ Question Period from 2006 to 2021, we measure the attention political parties attribute to the various issues. We use Google Trends data to measure policy issues’ public salience. We implement an instrumental variable estimation strategy to identify and estimate how the environment and climate change’s public salience drives elite attention. Our analysis demonstrates that public salience significantly affects political parties’ interest in the environment and climate change but unveils appreciable partisan heterogeneity in this regard.


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