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!"
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.
List of Chief Government Whips
- James E. Walker, "The Functions of the Whip in Canada", Parliamentarian, Vol. 52, No. 4 (October 1971), p. 260.