Gagging caucus fosters breakaway parties

One of the most frustrating spectacles to watch in the Westminster Parliamentary system is a whipped vote on a divisive issue.

What is the point in having representatives from different regions if they will raise their hands and vote like trained seals under the guidance of party leadership? We may as well just have a list of party leaders on the ballot. It would save money on having all those offices and seats in legislatures.

Democracy is a difficult and often messy process. Its not hard to understand why the leadership within parties wants to crush individual thought and keep everybody walking on the same line. It just makes life easier all around for the party brass and leaders.

Well too damn bad!

Constituents will only put up with so much. They formed associations, they chose nominees and they voted for their representatives. They want their local voices heard in the halls of power and that means free votes in the open on legislature floors. Not sad assurances that they are being represented behind closed doors at caucus meetings.

O’Toole may think he has made life easier for himself by drumming Sloan out of the CPC and Kenney may think he has stemmed his party’s bleeding by issuing a gag order for caucus but they both couldn’t be more wrong.

Loud, minority voices in caucus may be irritants but they need to be allowed to speak. They represent dedicated core supporters and if these voices are gagged within one party, they will seek another party. It’s as simple as that.

Federally the PPC and the Maverick Party are eating some of the CPCs lunch on the right. They will never form government but they can certainly become spoilers in enough key ridings to ensure that the CPC never forms government either.

In Alberta, Drew Barnes, Angela Pitt, Jason Stephan, and Miranda Rosin have been breaking ranks and speaking up on behalf of a large segment of Albertans who feel that pandemic restrictions have gone too far. Attempts to gag this constituency will only inflame it.

The Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta has been gaining support at a startling rate and authoritarianism from the UPC is only feeding them. Rebellious UCP MLAs may not cross to the WIP but voters sure will. That could cause some catastrophic problems for the UCP who can’t seem to gain a solid support base on any part of the political spectrum these days.

Shouting down alternative parties as being reckless vote splitters who will usher in another terrible term of the NDP in government is not an effective way to deal with this. It is not the fault of the up and comers that people are abandoning the party in power. Those votes are the UCP’s to lose and they are determined to lose them it seems.

Premier Kenney and the UCP have some serious issues to deal with in governance and within their own party. They are now halfway through their term and their support is swirling the toilet while party stalwarts drift off to support new parties. The answer to this problem won’t be a simple one but one can rest assured that gagging MLAs only serves the interests of alternative parties.

Leadership means managing and respecting a number of disparate voices within one organization while still being able to get things done. The UCP hasn’t mastered this yet and time is running out.

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