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Weakening Canadian Party Discipline Essay

2381 words - 10 pages

In our Canadian parliamentary system there are many ideologies and practices which aid in the successful running of our country. One of the more important ideologies and practices in our political system is the notion of strict party discipline. Party discipline refers to the notion of members of a political party “voting together, according to the goals and doctrines of the party, on issues that are pertinent to the government” or opposition in the House of Commons. In this paper, I will be discussing the practice of party discipline in the Canadian parliamentary system as well as the ways in which a change in the practice of strict party discipline to weaker party discipline would result in more positive effects on the practice of Canadian politics rather than more negative ones.

I will start by explaining a little bit more about the practice of party discipline in the Canadian parliamentary system. As stated earlier party discipline is an important practice in Canadian politics, this is due to its ability to allow for bills to be passed in the House of Commons by the government and as well can help to solidify a strongly cohesive opposition for the parties who are not the main government in power. For the most part party discipline in the House of Commons is very strict in making sure that the members of the political parties vote on issues according to the ideologies and doctrines of their respected parties no matter what they believe individually. This is not the case in every aspect of the House of Commons, however; with things such as “the speech from the throne, the budget, the Estimates, and explicit nonconfidence motions” as well as private members’ bills, there seems to be a little bit more flexibility in how members of Parliament vote. In the past, several prime ministers have introduced stricter and weaker forms of party discipline within their respective parties. One of the many examples of this is the Harper administration of today where Members of the Conservative Party have been bullied “into submission by considering every vote to be one of confidence.” On the other hand other government administrations, such as the Mulroney administration, allowed free votes on bills which involved issues bout capital punishment and abortion which resulted in a “dramatic split among Tory MPs...At the same time, three conservative MPs were expelled from the party caucus and two were denied the party’s candidacy.” This example concerning the Mulroney government allowing free votes could be an argument against the weakening of party discipline, but there are also many reasons that some weakening in party discipline could result in positive changes for the practice of Canadian politics.

In an article by David Kilgour and John Kirsner, written for the Canadian Parliamentary Review, it is discussed that “the party discipline exerted on most votes in our House of Commons and Provincial Legislatures is the...

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