The Whip in the Westminster System

The Whip in the Westminster System

In July 2010, twenty-six participants from fourteen Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Branches, participated in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Whips Network in Hunter Valley, New South Wales. The idea came from Australia and the workshop was developed in consultation with the Whips from the Australian Parliament. In this article one of the Canadian participants outlines the topics discussed and the recommendations of the workshop.

At the outset let me note that the role of whip is as diverse as the people and the countries in the Commonwealth. There are whips that do the job of both caucus chair and whips. Some of them also do the job as House leader or parts of the House leader job, and even some of the jobs that our leader would do is left up to the whip. When I refer to whips, I am referring to the general term of whip because the job description varies from legislature to legislature, from country to country. In our system in Saskatchewan our caucus chair attends cabinet meetings and I do not. But in Great Britain, they do not have a caucus chair and their whip fulfills both those roles. That individual attends cabinet meetings.