A really worthwhile documentary on party discipline.  And it is a sad reality that regardless of the party name, the elected members can talk a big talk to get elected, but strong, intelligent men (and women) transform into mice under the threat of losing favour with the leader, and the subsequent loss of position, prestige, and no endorsement for the next election.

John Van Dongen, was a man who worked hard for his riding, and was really respected for that. During his first bid to represent Abbotsford in the BC Legislature, John spoke at many events, firmly stating his opposition to abortion.  Then one day the matter of abortion came up for a vote in Victoria and the cameras caught him scurrying frantically out of the room, so that he would not be seen voting contrary to the things he’d said he believed.  The media had a heyday with that.

Another time when the abortion question came to the floor, this MLA gave a most unconvincing reason as to why he could not be present, be at his job, to uphold this very important principle that we had trusted him to speak up about, as he had done so boldly on the campaign trail.

I liked John and voted for him, knowing that what he did about the question of abortion was just the normal behaviour of politicians.  They are caught in the trap that conformity to the group imposes on all but the truly independent MPs and MLAs.  Rarely does an elected member dare to buck the leader’s will on any issue of importance.

So increasing the number of elected MPs or MLAs in Canada merely increases the cost of government for beleaguered tax-payers.  Each elected member has to have an office, a staff, car, expense account etc., thus burgeoning the entire civil service without doing much to bring the will of the people into the debates as to how they are governed,…..what laws to pass, where their taxes will be spent.

Government for the people, by the people and of the people is mostly an illusion, but in a democracy there is still some ray of hope, some influence because regular elections are mandated.  The fear of losing their seat has a clarifying effect on politicians, making them overcome the fear of the leader’s displeasure enough to occasionally try to actually represent their constituents.

Sean Holman gives us a little glimpse inside the halls of power.Unknown


(From Wikipedia)  A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party’s “enforcers,” who typically offer inducements and threaten party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy. A whip’s role is also to ensure that the elected representatives of their party are in attendance when important votes are taken. The usage comes from the hunting term “whipping in,” i.e. preventing hounds from wandering away from the pack.