50 Years, 50 Books: Whipped

Posted: Monday, June 27, 2022


As a way to celebrate our anniversary, Acquisitions Editor Randy Schmidt reached out to fifty UBC Press authors and asked them to talk about their favourite UBC Press book. This is what we heard.

Written by Emmett Macfarlane

Book cover for Whipped

Alex Marland’s Whipped: Party Discipline in Canada is a rich, nuanced account of how power is  exercised in Canadian politics. It explores the inner workings of the executive, Parliament, provincial legislatures, and political parties, while dissecting the impact of messaging and communications and the implications for representation and accountability. From a scholarly perspective, it brings together numerous fundamental strands of political science research into a fantastic, cohesive synthesis of empirical work, all while drawing on 131 original research interviews in order to shine new light and texture on the state of our politics. Well beyond its academic contribution, Marland manages to write in an accessible, lively manner that ensures the book’s status as a must-read for journalists, public servants, politicians, and members of the general public who want to understand the challenges, problems, and operation of governance in Canada.

The notion that power is heavily concentrated in the hands of the prime minister has been accepted wisdom for decades, and recognition of the extreme degree of party discipline in the Canadian system as a key aspect of this problem has come with it. Few works examining the underlying causes and contributions to this phenomenon are as comprehensive or illuminating. Cracking open the book, I expected something of a re-hash of what we already knew. What I got instead was consistently insightful, often thought-provoking, and occasionally surprising. Whipped is simply one of the best contributions to political science in recent years, and easily among my favourite UBC Press books.

Emmett Macfarlane is an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo. He is the founder and co-organizer of the Courts & Politics Research Group. His research focuses on the intersection of governance, constitutional law, and public policy. He is the author of Governing from the Bench: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Judicial Role (UBC Press, 2013), and Constitutional Pariah: Reference re Senate Reform and the Future of Parliament (UBC Press, 2021).

Posted in 50Years50Books
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