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In a recent article Leon D. Epstein sets out to analyze Canadian parliamentary parties, particularly the reasons for their cohesiveness, so as to better understand American parties. In some respects, this is an extension of his earlier study of British parliamentary parties. An analysis of Canadian parties is particularly appropriate, he feels, because the Canadian party system has so often been described as an Anglo-American hybrid. As he succinctly points out:
If a nation's size and diversity, social and structural federalism, or socio-economic class structure were to have anything to do with the achievement of cohesive legislative parties as is often argued, then the Canadian result should resemble the American. The fact that instead, Canadian legislative parties resemble the British in their crucial cohesion can only, in the present analysis, be attributed to the presence in Canada of a British parliamentary system.
Professor Epstein argues that cohesion is maintained by Canadian Members of Parliament because: (1) they perceive it is to their personal advantage to act cohesively; (2) it is mutually advantageous to their parties and themselves; and (3) although not specifically stated, he strongly implies that the maintenance of their parties as viable, organized and effective groups requires such behavior on their part.
He also states that the transcending of intraparty policy differences may be facilitated by the party legislative caucus.
The process by which it transcends may well include caucus compromise rather than crude leadership or majority imposition of a policy on dissenting M.P.'s.