Party Discipline in the House of Commons and Senate Essay

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In light of the recent Senate scandal, the public’s attention has been directed to the government’s credibility and its members’ discipline again. Mike Duffy’s 90,000 dollars scandal has put the Canadian government’s party discipline into the spotlight. While it is well-known amongst general public, there are other similar incentives and disincentives shared between the Members of the Parliament (MPs) and senators in keeping them disciplined, as well as some different ones that set them apart. In this essay, I am going to analyze the main levers of party discipline in the House of Commons and the Senate for their effectiveness. By comparing the similarities and differences, I will explain for the motivations behind the Senate, even if they have seemingly fewer incentives than the MPs, such as free of worrying about being re-elected.
For the MPs in Canada, party discipline is the core for their actions. For them, collective responsibility plays a big part in their agenda. As a party, they are held responsible for any decision that their party makes, and are expected to defend it at any given point of time. For a majority government, party discipline becomes an even more important issue as it is directly related to the term of the Prime Minister (PM). Under the rule of maintaining the confidence of the House, the PM must gain the support of the House in order to stay in his role. This is where high party discipline comes into place. With it, the PM will not have to worry about being dismissed by the Governor General. Should the high party discipline deteriorate and gives away into a low one, such as the one in the States, the government will be in a constant potential risk of collapsing into paralysis. Once the leader of the cabine...

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Although there are similarities and differences in lever of party discipline between the MPs and the Senate, they both work and are effective. For the MPs, levers such as collective responability, the danger of being re-elected or suspension, and control over Question Period help in securing high party discipline and unity by defining a stiff boundary and pulled them together. While the Senate does not face the problem of being removed from the party for displeasing their party leaders as the MPs do, the very method of being appointed directly by the Governor General (under the advice of the PM) and their background similarities ensure that they think alike and therefore have high party discipline. In contrast, MPs have a relatively more individualistic reasons for maintaining high party discipline while the motive for the Senate is more group-oriented.

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