Andrew Coyne touches on the subject. He concludes:
And that's as it should be. Integrity in those we elect is not an issue like the rest, to be weighed against their positions on health care or fiscal policy. It is, or should be, a basic condition of office, a prerequisite. If at any time that comes into doubt, the doubt must be resolved immediately.Now, I'm not going to pick on Andrew since many people have similar opinions. The only reason I quote Andrew here is because his position is quite common and because I just happened to read it five minutes ago and it's fresh in my mind.
So I'm certainly comfortable with a law requiring MPs who cross from opposition to cabinet, or who are elevated to cabinet within x number of months of having crossed, to first obtain the voters' approval (that used to be the requirement, remember, for all cabinet appointees). Whether the same stricture should apply more broadly I leave open.
The problem I have with Andrew's opinion is twofold. First, he is openly admitting that for the most part, an MP is elected due to his party affiliation and not due to personal abilities or beliefs. Second, and most importantly, Andrew is essentially of the opinion that our government and our laws should be used to prevent people from voting their conscience.
In making that last statement I am in no way claiming that people who switch party allegiences are doing so out of some sort of moral conviction.
The problem in Andrew's approach though is that he wants to create a mess of laws dictating when an MP can vote against his party or switch party allegiances, and the consequences of doing so. Andrew... the last thing we need in this country are laws dictating how an MP should vote.
If an MP breaks his trust with his constituents then it is the constituents and them alone who are responsible in determining if the MPs actions were justifiable. How should the MPs constituents do this? Should we allow an MP to be recalled? Perhaps, I'm somewhat neutral on the subject.
In short, just because some people are justifiably upset when an MP switches parties, we have to be careful that we don't go to far in addresses these peoples anger. We have to be careful that the cure isn't worse than the disease and in this case, Andrew's cure is simply a poison pill.