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Understanding the Dynamics of Political Dysfunction: A Comparative Analysis of Legislatures in Canada and the United States

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This paper examines the primary categories of dysfunction in the Canadian and American legislatures. The central purpose of this comparative analysis is to explore the range of phenomena associated with legislative dysfunction in both the Canadian Parliament and the United States Congress. The Canadian and American cases are compared for the insights that two different institutional settings and political cultures can provide into the emergence of an interplay among dimensions of dysfunction. My intention is to fill the void of thorough literature on this subject, most specifically in Canada, by categorizing the wide scope of sources of legislative dysfunction into three main classifications - Institutional, Ideological, and Sociological. Two central findings emerge from the analysis. First, the differentiation of institutional mechanisms and legislative processes between Canada and the United States produces distinct sources of national-level legislative dysfunction. Second, despite these institutional differences, the two nations largely share ideological and sociological sources of dysfunction. Evidence from the literature suggests that despite utilizing two distinct systems of government, the two countries exhibit some noteworthy similarities in this regard. The analysis will make use of many sub-variables and contemporary issues that are present in the legislatures in order to illustrate the extent to which dysfunction persists. After providing background and justification for these three main categories, I examine how they interact, and their effect on the functionality of the legislatures in both nations.
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