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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Interest group leadership and government funding : the Federation des Franco-Colombiens : community organisation or government policy agent? Savas, Daniel Johnathan


Most interest group analyses focus on the impact of interest group activity in the policymaking process, measured by the coincidence of interest demands and policy outputs. This study contends that the reverse case is important for a more complete understanding of State-interest group relations; it examines the impact of State support programmes on interest group leadership, and provides insights into how the State uses interest groups as agents for social intervention. The analysis shows that State-interest group relations can be affected by State funding programmes in two fundamental ways: first, as policy agents and political actors, interest group leaders can become "captured" in a vicious circle of financial and policy dependency which allows a minimum amount of freedom in community development activities; second, the State can undermine the link established between an interest group organisation and its interest community and, in so doing, hinder its own ability to pursue effective policy action. As a case study, the thesis takes the Federation des Franco-Colombiens (FFC), and shows how British Columbia francophone leaders modified their leadership activities as a result of access to federal government financial and policy support through the Official Languages Policy (1969). Essentially, the FFC grew from a largely local, Church-run community association into a full-fledged secular, bureaucratic, and political organisation. As Franco-Columbian leaders shifted their activity to the government arena as policy agents, they tended to pay less attention to their interest clientele, and thus severely jeopardized the effectiveness of their leadership. The implications of the study touch government, interest group leaders, and political scientists who wish to probe further into State-interest group relations. For the former two, it is crucial to be aware of the potentially negative effects of establishing too close a relationship, especially in those instances where the interest group has a low level of financial autonomy. For the latter, interest group activity should not be perceived as being uni-directional; interest groups are intermediaries in the policy process whose actions vis-à-vis the government and the interest clientele must both be considered for a more complete understanding of their role as societal actors.

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