Sean Holman is an award-winning reporter and assistant professor of journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He founded the pioneering online political news service Public Eye in British Columbia. He also produced and directed the documentary Whipped: The Secret World Of Party Discipline.
It's almost impossible for Canadians to know the extent to which representation is actually being done in this country. Chong's bill would empower those representatives as a collective -- legally enshrining caucus's authority to remove party leaders. It also blunts the authority of those leaders, taking away their final say on who gets to run for their party and who doesn't. And, if Chong's bill becomes law, the power to remove MPs from caucus would firmly rest with caucus. But what does any of that do to facilitate representation being done and being seen to be done?
When Justin Trudeau said last week that he had a "level of admiration" for China's "basic dictatorship," the understandable knee-jerk reaction from some politicians and pundits was to kick the federal Liberal leader. But while that gaffe was reprehensible, it was hardly incomprehensible and perhaps entirely understandable given the structure of our own political system, the parties within it and how some Canadians feel about dictatorships.
11/14/2013 05:34 EST
If we want our politicians to stop behaving like trained seals, it might not be necessary to take the whip away. So let me propose a different solution to the problem of party discipline: what if political parties had to formally and publicly disclose the amount of discipline they expect from their members on each vote -- from absolute obedience to the party line to absolute freedom?
07/11/2013 01:41 EDT
"As leader of the BC NDP, I take full responsibility for this defeat...no ifs, ands or buts." That's what Adrian Dix told reporters at a news conference last Wednesday, following his party's surprise failure to win the recent provincial election. Nevertheless, there are many more people who should be shouldering that responsibility. But the press hasn't made it easy for the public or party members to finger who those people are.
05/29/2013 11:49 EDT
Out of the 32,328 votes cast between June 2001 and April 2012, just 80 or 0.25 percent were cast by MLAs voting against their own party. That means a party with a majority can essentially do whatever it wants in the legislature -- so much so that last time a government bill was defeated was 1953, the same year Joseph Stalin died. But those numbers also suggest, as one former MLA told me, "There's got to be times -- random chance if nothing else -- that some of us actually disagree with what we're voting on." It's a position, if you're elected, you could find yourself in.
04/24/2013 12:20 EDT
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