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Krogel: Party line votes in Parliament reflect social group dynamics

We are soon approaching the one-month mark since the Conservative’s budget bill became law.

Prior to its translation from bill to legislation, Bill C-38 was the centre of a 24-hour voting marathon in the House of Commons.

While Liberal MPs Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau tweeted about bacon and coffee, Conservative MPs cheered with each winning vote.

But despite the external celebrations, there were many Conservative MPs who stood in opposition to various aspects of the bill, which became clear in the weeks leading up to the voting.

But despite their personal issues with the bill, Tory MPs voted along the party line and Bill C-38 was passed, with outrage from many.

In reality, voting along party lines is a necessary and integral part of our political system; if each MP was given free reign to vote in whichever direction he chooses, it’s unlikely that legislation would be passed quickly or effectively.

But despite my understanding that party discipline is a required component of democracy, I can’t help wishing that it wasn’t this way.

Seeing MPs voting against their individual beliefs and values, which their constituencies elected them for, hardly encourages the idea that our country is evincing certain merits of democracy.

But ironically, as we fume about others putting their values on hold to play the political game, we showcase the same reality in our own lives.

While most of us don’t belong to our own political party, we each have our own niche or social group.

High school is a vivid example of this. A 10-minute wait at the bus stop after school is enough to observe that each cluster of teenagers can be given a general nametag: The hipsters, the math nerds, the “We (heart) Lululemon Club,” and so on.

But this continues after high school too, and in fact, most of us belong to more than one social group.

Within each of these spheres, there is a set of expectations and social norms that are more or less adhered to.

The problem is that each person is more than their social nametag.

We all have our own individual beliefs and values, and sometimes these run contrary to those of the people around us.

But too often, our actions are a reflection of our desire to seamlessly fit in rather than a reflection of what we stand for.

What is even more troubling is the reality that we often don’t even realize this.

Instead of thinking for ourselves and discerning what our standards are in the first place, we often mindlessly follow the party lines of our social group. However, in the same way that it can be good strategy for MPs to vote along party lines, we also need to know when to keep our opinions to ourselves.

And if we can’t differentiate between the times that call for being quiet and the times that call for voicing our opinions, we can always follow Marc Garneau’s example and talk about bacon.

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