The Mandate to Govern in actuality is a mandate to serve.
The most important part or main ingredient in all of Canada is the people. All of Government, from the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governors, the Prime Minister or Premiers, federal or provincial cabinet ministers, the Senate, judges, mayors, councillors or reeves, and all other government officials including the police forces, all are subservient to the collective authority of the people, the citizens of Canada. All elected personnel are paid by the public purse, and obtain whatever authority is granted to them only by the temporary warrant of the collective choice of the majority decision of the people of Canada by free election.
One very important aspect for all elected persons to consider and keep in mind at all times is that they are servants to the public good both individually and collectively and that the authority bestowed upon them is only temporary. Any decisions they make must be tempered in humility to that important fact. They must also remember that they are public servants with an absolute fiduciary obligation to Canada, the land and the peoples, their safety, security, health, prosperity and their good name and reputation including the future the continuing collective welfare of the Nation.
A mandate is the power or authority to act that voters give to those elected to public office.
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.[Merriam-Webster Dictionary]
The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is the central idea of representative democracy.
Governments who introduce policies that they did not make public during an election campaign do not have a legitimate mandate to implement such policies.
Elections with a large margin of victory give the newly elected government or elected official an implicit mandate to put into effect certain policies.
A ‘mandate’ can mean a parliamentary seat won in an election or the electoral victory itself. A “free representational mandate” which is characteristic of a “deliberative assembly” guided by the general good and which guarantees the freedom of speech, which is key to the effective working of parliament, has true representativeness and hence democracy. A mandate which is bound to the wishes of the electorate is an imperative mandate.
Political parties have put in place mechanisms to ensure that “their” members of parliament vote along party lines. Party whips, party caucuses or political party groups exist in almost all parliaments and aim at ensuring party discipline. This is certainly necessary to some extent, as otherwise political parties would be unable to fulfil their vital function of policy formulation. But, we need ask, “Does the policy of party discipline diminish the “free” mandate granted individual representatives?”
The question is, to what extent is the consequence for a member of parliament if he/she fails to vote along party lines, criticizes the party hierarchy or policy or does not agree with party decisions? Should political parties, beyond party sanctions, be able to influence whether or not a member of parliament remains a member of the party? If political parties govern the political “conscience” of elected representatives then elected representatives no longer have a free mandate but an imperative mandate. An imperative mandate, whereby members of parliament are bound by instructions from their political parties or the electorate, is the bastardized form of democracy practiced in the former communist States, Russia and China where the freedom of parliamentary deputies has been severely limited.
If Canada is to remain a with imperative mandate, which seems what political parties desire, than the policies to be enacted must be clearly presented to the electorate prior to the election in order for the government to have a democratic mandate in accordance with concretely transmitted preference by their electors. Vague references as to policy just does not lead to proper democracy. Governments who attempt to introduce policies that they did not make public during an election campaign do not have a legitimate mandate to implement such policies.
This from: IPU eBULLETIN –> ISSUE No.19 –> ARTICLE 5
“The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has watched with growing concern as more and more majority parties propose and vote laws resulting in the loss of the parliamentary mandate if a member is expelled from the party, resigns from it, crosses the floor or even does not follow party directives. These laws in fact introduce an imperative mandate and, along with it, political party control over parliament. The negative impact this has on the capacity of parliaments to exercise effective oversight is not difficult to demonstrate, as parliamentarians start to refrain from asking questions or criticizing for fear of losing their mandate. It is also detrimental to the representativeness of parliament, as the electorate’s criticisms and views may not be expressed in parliament.”