If Liberal Whip Mark Holland was as sloppy on votes as resignations, long ago the government would have fallen

News yesterday that Liberal Raj Grewal is thinking of unquiting as MP for Brampton East should not have come as a surprise. It’s just the latest example of inexplicable sloppiness by Liberal Whip Mark Holland.

The Party Whip is the enforcer of caucus or leadership decisions. He or she gives out little favours to MPs who toe the party line. And punishment for those who don’t. Carrots and sticks.

The Whip’s job is to win every vote – in the Commons, on committee – with zero dissenters or defectors unless it has been mandated from above. Every caucus head is counted twice or thrice. And when there are whispers of unhappiness, those rumours go to the Whip, who intervenes to head off problems

The Whip is not a job of subtlety. Nor a job about fine words. The Whip works by actions, providing either extreme discretion or object lessons for caucus members.

If Chief Government Whip Mark Holland was as sloppy with the rest of his work as he was in getting “quitting” Liberal MPs Nicola Di Iorio and Raj Grewal to sign on the dotted line, his Liberals would have been defeated in a non-confidence vote long ago. That is to say, Mark Holland seems only selectively sloppy.

Di Iorio is the MP for Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michal who announced his resignation in April but, like Grewal, Holland never actually got a signed and witnessed letter for the Speaker.

According to a review of Hansard, Di Iorio has not spoken or voted in the Commons since June 13. On September 28, various media reported that Holland said Di Iorio would quit this fall. But Di Iorio has defied an apparent agreement with Holland, on November 6 posting on Facebook that he will not quit until January, 2019. Di Iorio still has not shown up to the Commons.

Yet somehow all the weapons of the Whip remained sheathed. Despite Di Iorio’s affront to Canadians, Trudeau and Holland have kept Di Iorio as a member of the Liberal caucus.

Holland’s sloppiness with Grewal is similar. On November 21, Grewal and Holland met face-to-face. The next day, Grewal also posted on Facebook that he was quitting. But again, Holland somehow didn’t seal the deal. Amid police investigations and a conflict of interest probe, Grewal remains an MP and member of the Liberal caucus.

Holland let Grewal leave the meeting without submitting his resignation on paper, apparently trusting that a man in personal crisis and debt could be counted on for timely submission of the documents that cut off his pay. If that’s really what Whip Holland believed, he is an incredibly bad judge of character and circumstances.

And now it seems Holland won’t lift a finger to clean up the mess he left. Reports state neither Whip Holland nor the PMO has followed-up with Grewal. “We’re going to let him follow through on what he said he would do, that’s our expectation,” said Holland this week.

Holland’s actions and inactions with Di Iorio and Grewal don’t just attest to Holland’s inexplicable sloppiness in getting them to quit as Members of Parliament, when agreed.

By their inaction, Holland and Trudeau signal objective support for the bad behaviour of Di Iorio and Grewal and and their denial of the democratic rights of Canadians resident in Brampton East and Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michael.

The hands-off treatment of Di Iorio and Grewal is the exact opposite of the job of the Whip. Unless the job is to be hands off. Holland and Trudeau are acting like wet noodles exactly when a real whip is actually needed to preserve party integrity. Why they would sacrifice their party to protect these two disgraceful MPs — that’s the question to be answered.

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