Party Whip (Canada)

In Canada the Party Whip is the member of a political party in the House of Commons of Canada, the Senate of Canada or a provincial legislature charged with ensuring party discipline among members of the caucus. The whip is also responsible for assigning offices and scheduling speakers from his or her party for various bills, motions and other proceedings in the House.


The party whip works to ensure that the number of MPs in the House or at committee meetings is adequate to win a vote if one is called. When a vote is called in the House, division bells ring until the whips for each party are satisfied that there are sufficient numbers of members of their own party present for the vote to proceed.

The whip's role is especially important when there is a minority government or if the government has a slim majority, as the absence of a handful of MPs during a confidence vote can result in the defeat of the government. Party discipline is strict in Canada and MPs are expected to vote with the rest of their party in all but a few designated free votes.

Use in Canadian government

James E. Walker, Chief Government Whip from 1963 to 1966, commented: "Once you get beyond the taxicab radius of Ottawa, nobody seems to have heard of a Whip. For that matter, nobody in Ottawa, three blocks from the Hill, has ever heard of the Whip either!"[1]

The position of Chief Government Whip is not a cabinet-level office, however, the Whip may receive a concurrent appointment such as minister without portfolio or Minister of State and sit in cabinet by virtue of that position.

For a time, the Reform Party of Canada publicly styled their parliamentary whip with the title of "Caucus Coordinator" rather than Whip.

Current Whips


House of Commons

List of Chief Government Whips

Thomas Mayne Daly 1872–1873 under Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald
George Elliott Casey 1874–1878 under Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie
Rufus Stephenson 1878–1882 under Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald
Arthur Trefusis Heneage Williams 1882–1885
Paul-Étienne Grandbois 1885–1891
George Taylor 1891–1892 under Prime Minister Sir John Abbott
1892–1894 under Prime Minister Sir John Thompson
1894–1896 under Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell
1896 under Prime Minister Sir Charles Tupper
James Sutherland 1896–1900 under Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier
William Samuel Calvert 1901–1909
Frederick Forsyth Pardee 1909–1911
John Stanfield 1911–1917 under Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden
William Sora Middlebro 1918–1920
1920–1921 under Prime Minister Arthur Meighen
George William Kyte 1921–1925 under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King
Pierre-François Casgrain 1926
William Alves Boys 1926 under Prime Minister Arthur Meighen
Pierre-François Casgrain 1926–1930 under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King
Thomas Edward Simpson 1930–1935 under Prime Minister R. B. Bennett
Ross Gray 1937–1940 under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Horace Taylor 1940–1945
William Gilbert Weir 1945–1948
1948–1957 under Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent
Elston Cardiff 1957–1958 under Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker
John Pallett 1959–1962
Théogène Ricard 1962–1963
Alexis Caron 1963 under Prime Minister Lester Pearson
James Edgar Walker 1963–1965
Bernard Pilon 1966–1968
1968–1970 under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Lloyd Francis 1970-1971
Grant Deachman 1971–1972
Thomas Lefebvre 1972–1975
Joseph-Philippe Guay 1975–1977
Gus MacFarlane 1977–1979
Bill Kempling 1979–1980 under Prime Minister Joe Clark
Charles Turner 1980–1984 under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Chuck Cook 1984–1985 under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Thomas Fennell 1985–1988
Jim Hawkes 1988–1993
Jim Edwards 1993 under Prime Minister Kim Campbell
Alfonso Gagliano 1993–1994 under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Don Boudria 1994–1996
Bob Kilger 1996–2001
Marlene Catterall 2001–2003
Mauril Bélanger 2003–2004 under Prime Minister Paul Martin
Karen Redman 2004–2006
Jay Hill 2006–2008 under Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Gordon O'Connor 2008–2013
John Duncan 2013–2015
Andrew Leslie 2015–2017 under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Pablo Rodríguez 2017–2018
Mark Holland 2018–present


  1. James E. Walker, "The Functions of the Whip in Canada", Parliamentarian, Vol. 52, No. 4 (October 1971), p. 260.
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