The relevance of the individual

by Aaron Wherry

Jeff Jedras argues against a proposed ban on floor crossing.

While many may think we vote for a Prime Minister, in fact we don’t. And we don’t vote for a party either. We vote for a Member of Parliament to represent us in Ottawa. We send 308 Members of Parliament to Ottawa and, from their ranks, the governor general calls on one to form a government and test the confidence of the House of Commons.

Whatever people may base their voting decision on, the fact is we’re electing a person to represent us. If they change parties, or do something else that we disagree with, then we can defeat them when and if they run for re-election. But taking away their legitimate right to change party affiliations only serves to further re-enforce this fundamental misunderstanding of our political system and further dilute the role and responsibility of individual MPs.




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The relevance of the individual

  1. “While many may think we vote for a Prime Minister, in fact we don’t. And we don’t vote for a party either. We vote for a Member of Parliament to represent us in Ottawa.”

    In theory, this is how it’s supposed to work but in reality MPs follow whatever PM/Party decides. 

    Problem is that our MPs behave like there first job is to protect PM or Party while they are meant to be representing private citizens interests to Cabinet, which are not remotely same thing.  

    And floor crossing should not be allowed. If MP doesn’t enjoy being part of party they were elected to, MP can quit caucus and sit as independent and face electorate next time before joining new party.

    • If you’re critical of MP’s loyalty to their party, why would you want to prevent them from leaving their party? 

      • He doesn’t actually.  Maybe the solution is to have the ‘independents’ form a party-like structure, where depending on their number they get committee seats, research monies and the like.  Because as it is now, being an independent means being completely impotent.  No principled MP, elected within the party structure, would choose to sit outside the party structure.  Still, there are times when your party is wrong or times when your local region’s interests MUST trump the interests of your party for the MP representing.  I don’t like floor crossing either, but if your choice is move to a party where you can represent your consitutents when you feel you must, or be put out to limbo-land, I can see that being a hard choice and wouldn’t like to give a blanket requirement as to what that MP must do. 

  2. We elect a local representative to use their own best judgement in Ottawa, and it may well be that the MP discovers his party is or isn’t doing something that s/he believes is right….either for the riding or the country. Perhaps another party is…or perhaps something that is needed or wanted can best be done in another party.  So the individual ‘crosses the aisle.’

    I really don’t think the country will fall apart because of it. Churchill crossed the aisle… twice…and yet became PM and led the UK through the war.

  3. Jedras makes a pretty strong argument here. 

  4. I am in total agreement with Mr. Jedras.
    Of course, I would be cheesed off if the MP I had just voted in, switched sides for personal gain (rather than principle), but I do know I would eventually have the opportunity to express my displeasure.

  5. While I agree that there needn’t be a restriction that prevents MPs from switching party, I disagree that (all people) vote on the basis that they’re electing an MP.

    Voting in a parliamentary system like Canada’s presupposes that the voter can hold many variables in their head at one time. Meaning, while in one’s riding, one may support the Conservative MP, but generally, this particular voter prefers the Liberal (or NDP) party. If it’s going to be a close election, this voter has quite a dilemma: vote for who they want to represent their riding or “vote” for the party they want in power.

    Of course, literally speaking, you are correct, in that voters are electing an MP (and nothing more), but those that take a broader overview will see that this isn’t the entire picture. There are pros and cons to this system, yes, but my comment here is not intended to spark this debate. Merely to point out that not all voters vote for the the sole purpose of electing an MP.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    Jeremiah

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