Members of Parliament (MPs) are often dismissed as “trained seals,” helpless to do anything other than take commands from party leaders. In addition, survey data indicates that while Canadians feel MPs do an excellent job representing their political parties, they do a poor job of representing their constituents.
Representation in Action challenges these views of Canadian MPs and shows that the ways they represent their constituents are as diverse as Canada itself. Royce Koop, Heather Bastedo, and Kelly Blidook examine the types of activities Members of Parliament engage in, both within their constituencies and in Ottawa, and they systemically determine what accounts for differences in style and agency. Drawing on original observational and interview research with eleven MPs and featuring detailed in-depth case studies, this book shows how MPs develop their own distinctive approaches to the role of representative when addressing policy concerns, assisting constituents with problems, and connecting with those who elect them.
The first book to use intensive participant-observation methods to study Canadian MPs and representation, Representation in Action is a new and original account of how MPs interpret and do their jobs as representatives, and a compelling portrait of diversity in representational styles.
Students and scholars concerned with the practice and quality of representation, democracy, parliament, and politics in Canada should read Representation in Action.
This is a highly readable book that provides ample evidence and argumentation that MPs are self-consciously engaged in representational styles and strategies that are coherent and responsive to the demands and expectations of their diverse constituencies. This is a good news story and I highly recommend it.
[A] fascinating new book ... Representation in Action is destined to become a field guide for a generation of students and researchers who want to collect real-world data about parliamentarians.
This is a diligent, innovative, and engaging empirical study of how political representation is understood and expressed in the modern context.
Royce Koop is an associate professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of Grassroots Liberals: Organizing for Local and National Politics and coeditor of Parties, Elections, and the Future of Canadian Politics. His research has appeared in scholarly journals including American Journal of Political Science and Canadian Journal of Political Science. In 2014, Koop was the recipient of the Seymour Martin Lipset Best Book Prize awarded by the American Political Science Association for Grassroots Liberals.
Heather Bastedo is the president of Public Square Research Ltd. She is coeditor of Canadian Democracy from the Ground Up: Perceptions and Performance, a book that measures the health of Canadian democracy. She has published work in the Canadian Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Youth Studies, among others. Bastedo also serves as the founding director on the board of the Canadian Association for Public Opinion Research.
Kelly Blidook is an associate professor of political science at Memorial University. He is the author of Constituency Influence in Parliament: Countering the Centre. His academic research has appeared in various journals including Canadian Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and Journal of Legislative Studies, and his commentary has appeared in the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, and the St. John’s Telegram.
1 Observing Politicians
2 Leon Benoit
3 Tony Clement
4 Megan Leslie
5 Influences on Representational Styles
6 Five MPs in their Constituencies
Notes; Works Cited; Index
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