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Stand and deliver: Godbout does a deep dive on party discipline and the influence of government in Parliament

By Alex Marland      

Lost on Division features 10 chapters that draw on a dataset of how more than 5,100 MPs and Senators voted in over 13,000 roll call votes between 1867 and 2015, as well as their biographical data. It is clearly a labour of love: Jean-François Godbout says it took 10 years to write.

A sparse number of MPs, pictured May 13, 2020, in the House of Commons for a meeting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lost on Division is a significant contribution to research about the Parliament of Canada and parliamentary parties. It is the only comprehensive study of Canadian MPs’ voting behaviour from Confederation to present day and offers a new way of tracing the evolution of party discipline. It makes a convincing argument that if MPs truly want more individual clout, they will need to band together to change the standing orders, writes Alex Marland. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—In recent years, a Université de Montreal trailblazer has been publishing sophisticated research about the history of party discipline in Canada. Jean-François Godbout compiles and analyzes complex datasets. His findings have appeared in a number of highly regarded journals to bring attention to the operations of legislatures in multiple countries, particularly the Parliament of Canada. Lately, he has authored a series of striking journal articles about how Canadian MPs vote, culminating in his data-infused new book Lost on Division? Party Unity in the Canadian Parliament (University of Toronto Press, 2020).

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