Monika Smaz

Université de Montreal

Department of Political Science
Program: PhD
Supervisor: Jean-François Godbout

Title: Free voting in the Canadian Parliament, 1867-2015

Despite the emphasis on parliamentary reforms in recent decades and the introduction of new legislative procedures, research on free votes remains highly restricted in Canada. Only a handful of studies have examined the influence of free votes on legislative behaviour. These studies range from brief and partial explorations or succinct mentions of free votes (Franks 1987; 1991; 1997; Atkinson and Thomas 1993; Docherty 1997, 141; Brooks 2007, 292; Kam 2009, 77-78; Thomas and Sabin 2013, 4-5) to segmental empirical studies of issues related to specific votes in Parliament (Pothier 1979; Overby, Tatalovich and Studlar 1998; Longley 1999; Overby, Raymond and Taydas 2011). In fact, no study has been interested in analyzing all of the free votes in the Canadian House of Commons recorded after the Confederation. In addition, scholars had analyzed data on legislative voting without developing a theory in order to explain the development of this procedure over time, or to understand why party leaders may strategically use free votes in the legislature to avoid intra-party conflicts. Within the context of this Ph.D. thesis project, I intend to address the puzzles surrounding free votes in the Canadian House of Commons. Using a rational choice institutionalist approach, I seek to address these flaws by developing a theory of parliamentary free voting, which will explain why party leaders decide to allow an unwhipped vote, while on others occasion, they do not, and why Members of Parliament vote the way they do during free votes. Two case studies will be used as an explorative and confirmatory strategy for the testing of my theory of parliamentary free voting. The theory will also be tested empirically at the party or macro level, and at the individual or micro level model. The micro level will also allow me to test some of the democratic representation expectations of free votes. Furthermore, the testing at the macro level will permit me to answer about the effect of free votes on party unity.

Previous Awards
-Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Program; Master's Scholarship -Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program; Doctoral Scholarship -Student and enlightened leadership Award 2013 in public administration for the University of Montreal, presented by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC)

Party Development in the Early Decades of the Australian Parliament: A New Perspective (1791-1840)
Journal: Australian Journal of Political Science
Volume: 51
issue: 3
Year: 2016
First Page: 478
Last Page: 495