PM Harper in Canada is taking a lot of heat for alleged “muzzling” of his own party members. He has not only forbidden them to speak against government policy (which is normal) but he has also instructed them to to speak on any issues that are not part of the current agenda (specifically sex selection abortions).
This is very harmful. In Canada, power is very concentrated in the Prime Minister. We lack the checks and balances of the US system and the needed compromises that many European minority governments require. In Canada, opposition parties are powerless to influence the government agenda. This is why we need to rely on governing party members to do this.
In the days of Jean Chretien, “rogue” MPs like Charles Caccia, Clifford Lincoln, Karen Kraft Sloan and Roger Galloway could be counted on to force their own Prime Minister to be flexible on environment policy, trade policy and other issues that were internally divisive.
Democracies require opposition and debate to moderate policies and remain transparent. Harper may not always agree with his backbenchers, but he needs to allow them a voice.