I have been asked if I, as the GPNS party leader, would ever whip a vote, forcing other party representatives to vote as I decree. My answer is quite simple, and clearly illustrated by what I am witnessing with recent events in the province.
In every election, candidates make statements about how important it is to have local representation, and how their first allegiance is to their constituents. If this is true, how can the leader of the ruling party tell all party members how they must vote in the legislature, even when constituents are clearly stating this is not the action they wish their representatives to take? Is this really what should happen in a democracy?
Some people put forward the argument that voters are actually voting for a platform, and that the party leadership must make sure to obey this stated platform above all else. But if that were the case, how does this come into play with the current teacher’s dispute? I do not remember reading in the Liberal platform that a Liberal government would deny teachers the right of fair bargaining and order a contract. Perhaps our local MLAs could explain to us exactly why they would vote for Bill 75. Is there any reason other than “Premier McNeil told me so”?
One of our pillars of the Green Party of Nova Scotia, in agreement with the international green charter, is participatory democracy. We strongly believe in consensus based decision making, which means that one person, even if he is a Premier in a majority government, should not have the power to dictate the actions of other party members.
So, would I ever enforce a vote along party lines? No, because the practice defies my understanding of democracy.