The resignation of Brent Rathgeber, MP for northwest Edmonton and St. Albert, from the Conservative caucus has brought much attention to a major governance issue across Canada: How much should party leaders be able to control the votes of their colleagues?
The party discipline applied to most votes in our House of Commons is among the strongest in the democratic world. Defenders argue that our Executive Democracy model, based on one prevailing in Britain in the distant past, requires iron party discipline if our fused legislative and executive branches of government are to function effectively. Virtually every vote is potentially one of non-confidence in the government; if lost, an election is required. The whips of government parties use the possibility of an early election to compel their members to vote the party line.
W.S. Gilbert stated the Canadian political reality humorously if unintentionally: "I always voted at my party's call and I never thought of thinking for myself at all."Read More »from Party loyalty: Canada’s system should be improved to allow for individual voices