26 August 2010

Whipping Votes

Several people on the progressive side of Canadian politics are demanding that the opposition parties whip the vote in support of the long gun registry. With respect to this issue, the NDP is being targeted particularly because, in a previous vote, certain MPs failed to vote per the party line.

The long gun registry is only the latest issue for which whipping the vote has come up, but it certainly won't be the last.

Under the whip, all MPs of a given party are required by the party's leadership to vote a certain way. This is regardless of the views of the MPs or the views of the majority of the people they are supposed to represent, their constituents. If MPs don't fall under the whip, they are threatened with consequences which can be as drastic as ouster from the party caucus.

I take issue with the entire notion of whipping the vote. It represents one of the myriad ways in which party politics is failing the people of Canada.

In a representative democracy, members of parliament are supposed to represent their constituents, not their damn parties!

No wonder voters are fed up. What's the point of electing someone to Parliament if it means s/he now represents her/his party, not you?

No matter the topic under vote - gun registry, abortion, Charter rights violations -, in a properly functioning democracy, whipping the vote is just plain WRONG. And I applaud any politician, regardless of party affiliation, who refuses to kneel before party bullies and instead votes according to the will of the majority of his/her constituency.

(By "constituency," I do not mean only the 30 percent or so who voted that person into office, but all of the people in that geographical region.)

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