“Whipped: the secret world of party discipline.” A documentary about the secret world of party discipline, which forces MLAs to vote against their constituents and even their own conscience.


Hold onto your hats everyone, Election 2013 just took a twist.

Sean Holman, formerly of Public Eye Online, is about to première his stunning new documentary, and in doing so may change the way British Columbians view party politics – and it’s about time.

In my opinion this documentary is long past due, and I am exceptionally happy to share this with you, and hope that you may attend one of the screenings – admission by donation.

From their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/partydiscipline

“On May 14th, British Columbians will go to the polls and choose who they want to represent them in the legislature. But, for the next four years, most of those MLAs will only represent the wishes of their party leaders.

A new video documentary by Webster Award-winning investigative journalist Sean Holman reveals why, exposing the secretive system of party discipline that stops MLAs from voting their conscience or for their constituents”

Now,many of you already know that is how it really works for most political parties… but I’m willing to wager that even more of you did not. Is your MLA really representing you and your community… or another agenda all together?

Now, I am a little curious as to how many of you think your MLA should have the right to vote freely, rather than as the party directs, so watch this trailer, and then if you like, vote at the poll below it. I spoke with Sean last night, and he believed so strongly that this documentary, this story, needed to be told, that he financed the entire project himself at great personal expense. He’s set up a donation page to help offset the costs of the project and if you think you would like to be a part of it, check out this page http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/whipped

Want to attend a screening? Check out this page for Dates and Times this documentary will be shown in Vancouver and Victoria, admission by donation!


33 thoughts on ““Whipped: the secret world of party discipline.” A documentary about the secret world of party discipline, which forces MLAs to vote against their constituents and even their own conscience.

  1. How true, how true. I’ve lost so much faith in “any and all” politicians.
    No one is listening! Federally, provincially, or municipally. It’s time to look after “Canadians”, “British Columbian’s”, and our “communities”.

    Thank you Sean.

    Thanks Laila for bringing this to us.


    1. Hey, don’t thank me, thank Sean, Damien and others for believing in something so strongly that they devoted a lot of their time to making it happen. Anything I can do to get the word out is the least I can do.


    1. I think that might be in the works, but since this was self financed,and time is limited before the election,the largest audiences get the first viewings.All details and updates will be posted on the facebook page for the film


  2. Also, didn’t take part in the poll.

    It strikes me as the classic “have you stopped beating your wife?” question, where the question itself presumes a fact.

    It’s my understanding that each MLA has the right to vote freely; most are too cowardly to vote their constituent’s wishes, or their consciences because the party can and will take goodies off their plate.

    I’m sure I need to watch the video to learn more about the hows and whys and maybe even the fix?

    I guess Bob Simpson, Vicki Huntingdon, John van Dongen can watch the video with a clear conscience.


    1. Actually, that’s not true. There have been cases where an MLA who did not vote with the party was punished for doing so. Case in point. http://www.straight.com/news/ndp-mla-michael-sather-removed-caucus

      Suspension? Read that link and tell me they have a free vote. How are you free, when if you vote with your conscience you are removed and suspended and therefore unable to represent your constituents in the way they elected you to in the legislature?


      1. Point made, Laila.

        That punishment is more extreme than removing goodies from a plate. If a candidate can’t vote his constituents wishes or his conscience, why send him/her to Victoria?

        All the more reason for an expose from Mr. Holman. I look forward to seeing it.


  3. Is there anyone in Canada who is not aware of the fact that this is the way politics has been (chronically) working since about 1980? This is a universal given, no matter the political stripe. Wake up, people.
    The political environment needs a systemic change; we elect representatives who do not represent, leaders who do not lead. Come on, either lead, follow (your constituents) or get out of the way!
    In times before the 1980’s, some MLA’s and MP’s voted with their constituents and/or their conscience in mind, but not many.
    Any screenings of Sean Holman’s film in the Okanagan valley?


    1. You would be surprised. People who don’t follow politics beyond the headline on the front page,often don’t know the details.

      I’ve heard many people are asking in that region, I would suggest you head to his facebook page for the film and ask him!


      1. I could be wrong, but I think Dale was referring to Ms. Dayleen Dypstyck (or whatever her name is), the ex-NDP candidate for Kelowna-Mission. There’s one MLA-hopeful that plans to speak her own mind……..as an Independent now.


        1. Omg… there should have been a warning to put down my coffee before I read Dayleen Dypstyck..lol…gini, you nearly had to get me a new keyboard there..lol..


  4. Went to an all candidates meeting last night, The Liberal and the NDP candidates spoke the party line, how boring, how predictable. Good thing I live in South Delta where Vicki can speak her mind, ask any questions she wants and represent me first. If you can vote independent.


    1. proportional voting would exclude independents………which is the biggest reason why it’s not the way to go. Elimination ballots, or a two-tier election like in Europe, where only the Final Two are on the 2nd ballot, is much preferable – and could help out Independent candidates a LOT. Proportional voting would entrench the powers of the parties, big-time.


  5. Hi!
    This is very timely given Justin Trudeau’s coming to the defence of Tory backbenchers who have been muzzled by the PMO-as well as how other parties have operated.I believe he is bringing a motion to Parliament on Monday.I can hardly wait to see how that all plays out and look forward to Sean et al’s documentary!


    1. that’s not the important thing he’s doing on Monday, though…..on Monday, like other Grits, he’ll vote to ratify China-FIPA………… and coming to the defence of anti-abortion MPs is, well, kinda weird………. grandstanding is his forte, and like other politicians it’s sleight-of-hand to distract from what he’s REALLY about….


  6. Laila,
    re the Poll: shouldn’t there be another category? There are times when for major issues party unity is a must and others when the subject should be a free vote based on what the majority of that politicians constituency is telling him/her? I cant’ vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and ‘It doesn’t matter to me’ doesn’t work because it does matter to me.


    1. Freedom isn’t conditional. When voters elect a representative, they expect them to represent them- period.

      Imaging what that says to a voter. Just for a moment.. Imagine your MLA voted on an issue as the riding majority indicated… and it was against what the caucus wanted so like Michael Sather, your MLA was suspended. In effect, kicked out of the legislature for whatever amount of time.

      How would you feel about your elected representative being punished by his own party? Why is the party agenda, more important than the people who put them there in the first place?

      You either have a free vote, or you don’t. I firmly believe this should be included as a part of electoral change, along with banning corporate,union and capping individual donations.


  7. Dale Tousignant says:
    April 19, 2013 3:25 pm at 3:25 pm
    “Is there anyone in Canada who is not aware of the fact that this is the way politics has been (chronically) working since about 1980? This is a universal given, no matter the political stripe. Wake up, people.”

    This has been going on since Confederation, if not earlier. When we elect an MP or MLA, they represent the party to us, they do NOT represent us to the government. When they run for a party, it is their policy they will follow, not our wishes, if they even know what we want.

    In the BC provincial election, I am working for a political party because it is closest to what I wish the BC government to do.

    How do we change the system? The best way is to get involved in a political party that is closest to your wishes and TRY to have a policy that you desire. YOU must convince the other party members to agree with you and then develop a platform.

    Although this may be tough to work with, it is up to citizens to get involved in political parties, not to just vote. Democracy is more than just saying yes or no, it is saying what do we need as citizens of this province and country.


  8. If I vote for a political party then I am entitled to expect that the promises they made, and for which I voted, will be enacted. If a candidate. who belongs to that party and runs on it’s promises, is then free to vote against the party’s platform in the legislature, what basis do I have for choosing the party I prefer to govern? Really, none at all.

    If a member in our current system wishes to vote freely she can do so, but what she can’t do is to belong to the party caucus under whose banner she ran and vote against it’s decisions at the same time. Every member has the right to sit as an independent or cross the floor and in just about every parliament some do. But why should they be able to have it both ways? How can they be members of a party caucus and yet feel free to vote against the decisions of that caucus any time they want? That isn’t democracy, that’s chaos.

    What you are really advocating is the abolition of the party system. Maybe that would be a good idea, but if so you should admit that this is what you are advocating. It has been tried, actually, and every time it has been tried it has ended up with the party system coming back. There might just possibly be a reason for that.

    There is a compromise solution that has worked well in the British parliament, and that is to whip only confidence votes. That could be done in the B.C. legislature. Free votes can and have been held in that legislature and there is no reason why they couldn’t be expanded. But to eliminate the “whip” system entirely will simply lead to an entirely new, and untested form of government.

    There is actually no freedom except freedom within constraints. Without rules there is no game.
    If I play chess with someone I am agreeing not to move my bishop like a rook, and unless we agree to that rule then we can’t play chess. We are playing some other game. Without laws there is no democracy, and without rules in the legislature there can be no effective government. The function of the “whip” is really mainly the function of a chair person in a meeting. Try holding an effective meeting that makes effective decisions without someone acting as the chair sometime.


  9. ‘Rather than substance, this chamber is filled with sound, and sometimes fury,” and by the number of empty seats, not very many members.


  10. Can’t wait to check it out. There’s much dissatisfaction with party discipline but not much support for Independent representatives (who don’t get whipped). There’s just one job for the sovereign to do in our system: ensure that legislation can be passed at all times by a majority vote in a popularly elected parliament. Failure to achieve this “confidence”, or to find another configuration in the parliament extant, results in an election. To avoid holding an election for each and every bill, there must be some commitment by a group of members to vote as a block, normally a party, although it doesn’t have to be. Parties, which have the Constitutional right to form (so forget about abolishing the “party system”), put together a platform with which their members can generally agree, then invite candidates to commit to it in return for the considerable electoral advantage of affiliation. Parties get upset with members who then go back on this deal by refusing to be whipped; they can kick a member out of the party but not out of the parliament because legally no member represents a party, only riding constituents. There is an educative mental exercise that clarifies why party discipline has evolved: imagine yourself the sovereign who is charged with recognizing a government but who is presented with a parliament-elect made up entirely of Independent Members. Now imagine yourself one of those Independents, who must compromise promises made to your constituents in order to find other Independents who will also so compromise theirs. The advantage of forming the largest group of Members, presumably those most amenable to compromising their own promises, is to be recognized as government and thereby enjoy procedural rules that expedite moving your legislation through (hopefully your constituents will be happy that their wishes were so advantaged even if it meant some compromise of those wishes). I’ll be interested to see what the sage Mr Holman might have to say about this hypothetical situation. It seems to me the problem is relative, that is, some parties are much more strict than others and, inasmuch that this is party, not parliamentary business, the thing to do if you don’t like this or that party using the whip too much is don’t vote for them.

    Thanx much, as always, for the heads -up.


    1. We are not being asked to vote for a platform (can anyone tell me what the NDP platform planks are?). We are asked to vote for Reps, but what’s the point if they only do what the party-geeks tell them to do.
      Time for some real democracy.
      With today’s technology, we don’t need Reps – that only made sense when travel took forever and communications were not instantaneous. Let’s reboot.
      We need an electronic version of the Swiss Townsquare.


  11. voxpopbc says:
    “We are not being asked to vote for a platform (can anyone tell me what the NDP platform planks are?).”

    You can find out for yourself at http://www.bcndp.ca/newsroom. You may not agree with their policies, but policies they are and they will be rolled out over the next week.

    Every one of the NDP candidates has agreed to implement these promises if elected. As the Liberal candidates have agreed to implement theirs. Of course, maybe they are lying, but if so your remedy is to vote against them next time. In the meantime the parliamentary caucus system and the existence of party whips is no secret to anyone who has taken the (very slight) trouble to find out.

    I am absolutely gobsmacked at the ignorance people have about our governance system. Anyone who wants to find out can do so easily – it’s all there on the internet. When I went to school in the 1950’s and 1960’s they actually taught it to us.


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