Will MPs vote to curtail the power of our political leaders? Don't bet on it. (Graphic by CLIFF HAMAN)

Will MPs vote to curtail the power of our political leaders? Don’t bet on it. (Graphic by CLIFF HAMAN)

Canada’s MPs may soon have a chance to steal fire from their gods. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t seize it.

As first reported by the Huffington Post’s Althia Raj, Tory backbencher Michael Chong plans to “bring forward legislation next week to curb the power of all party leaders” and, in doing so, potentially give MPs more power to defy them.

That may seem like something most elected officials would and should support. But the forces that ensure MPs rarely vote against the party line also preserves the power of their leaders — and may continue doing so.

Even in the privacy of their caucus rooms, many MPs could well oppose Chong’s bill thanks to their fear of punishment (including social exclusion), their grasping hope of reward and a culture that often seems to prioritize deference, stability and efficiency over freedom.

So if the parties publicly come out against that bill, I wouldn’t expect MPs to provide a lot of selfless — or even self-interested — support for it.

To find out more about all of this, I’d encourage you to watch my documentary Whipped: the secret of party discipline, which is streaming online here on CPAC’s Website.

Via candid interviews with past and present elected officials, it reveals why so many of our representatives act like trained seals — and may keep acting that way.


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