Whatever happened to free votes anyway?

Although I rarely agree with anything written by Werner Patel, I do enjoy reading his blog. One of his latest posts caught my eye.

Has control over MPs and caucuses gone too far? While a certain degree of party discipline is certainly appreciated, the fact that each MP has a mind of his or her own should not be ignored.

Voters elect MPs to represent them and their ridings. No political party is a uniform block of just one line of thought, ideology or policy. The reason for having MPs is to have a diversity of opinion — including within the same party. The alternative would be to have only the four party leaders meet for regular coffee klatsches where the policies and laws for the country at large are hammered out.

Agreed. We, the voters, entrust 308 men and women with the responsibility of representing our interests in the House of Commons. Each MP has the duty to represent ALL of his/her constituents, not just the minority (usually) that elected them. While the party needs to have a focused strategy, that’s what caucus meetings are for. MPs should not be punished, à la Bill Casey, for voting in accordance with the best interests of their constituents.

Strangely, I seem to remember one party stating that they were all for making more votes free of the whip. Oh, yes, that would be these guys:

A Conservative government will:

  • Make all votes in Parliament, except the budget and main estimates, “free votes” for ordinary Members of Parliament.

from Stand up for Canada: p.23

I guess Mr. Harper forgot about that one too.

(BTW I am aware that Mr. Casey voted against a budget bill, however he may have been relying on the word of his colleague Peter MacKay who said prior to the vote: “We will not throw a member out of caucus for voting his conscience. There will be no whipping, flipping, hiring or firing on budget votes as we saw with the Liberal government.” Ooops.)

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 9th, 2007 at 6:12 pm and is filed under Conservative Party, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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