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



Are political representatives responsive to the public in determining the issues they publicly address? Our paper takes a novel approach to this question with innovative data and state-of-the-art methodology. While previous research on issue responsiveness has focused on the United States and its unique political institutions, we study a multi-party parliamentary setting: the Canadian House of Commons. We focus our analysis on a prominent policy issue: climate change. Using transcripts from the Question Period between April 2006 and June 2021, we measure the attention political parties attribute to the various policy issues. We use Google Trends data to measure policy issues' public salience. We implement an instrumental variable estimation strategy to causally estimate how much climate change's public salience drives elite attention. Our analysis reveals that climate change's public salience significantly affects the attention political parties pay to that policy issue, though with significant partisan heterogeneity.

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