'Whipped' - New Doc Explores Secret World of Party Discipline
by Damien Gillis - The Canadian.orgI'm pleased to announce that award-winning political journalist Sean Holman is premiering his new 40-min documentary Whipped in Vancouver and Victoria this week.
I worked with Sean as the cinematographer for the project, so I'm not in a position to review the film.
But I will say, humbly, that he's done a bang-up job securing unprecedented access to key political figures and coaxing out some truly astonishing confessions about the way our political system really works.
Whipped poses some important questions, like why BC has the lowest record of independent votes in the Legislature of pretty much any jurisdiction in the Western world; like how we got to this place where MLAs elected to represent their constituents are invariably far more concerned about sticking to the party line; and what solutions could help bring real democracy back to Victoria.
According to Holman, "For the first time ever, British Columbians will hear what really happens behind the closed doors of the provincial politics – and why some MLAs think it’s wrong."
The impressive calibre of interviewees demonstrates the respect Sean's years as a reporter (he's now a journalism professor at Mount Royal University) garnered him over the years - both through the mainstream media and his own blog, The Public Eye Online. The film draws out some fascinating, candid revelations from a long list of influential, retired politicians - from onetime Liberal Attorney General Geoff Plant and Finance Minister Carole Taylor to the NDP's David Chudnovsky and Premier Mike Harcourt.
It also includes a number of lesser known but highly qualified leaders whose independent-mindedness kept them from Cabinet posts they likely merited. People like the Liberals' Dennis MacKay and Socred Nick Loenen - not to mention Independent MLA Bob Simpson, whose mild public criticism of then NDP Leader Carole James triggered a chain of events that brought about her downfall and compelled him to quit the party.
I went into the project with what I thought was a fairly good grasp of the lock-down world of party politics. And yet, shooting this film for Sean proved a real eye-opener for me. It was clear that even these intelligent, successful people - leaders in their respective fields of law, education, medicine, media, business - were genuinely shocked, upon their initiation as MLAs, to learn how the system really works.
Now, thanks to Whipped, the public has the opportunity to share in those insights and begin a much-needed conversation about how to fix our ailing democracy.
See Whipped this week at one of the following screenings:
Thursday, April 25 (7 p.m.), UBC
Buchanan Building (Room A103)
Friday, April 26 (7 p.m.), Victoria
The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street
Sunday, April 28 (7 p.m.), Vancouver
Library Square Conference Centre (Alice MacKay Room), 350 West Georgia Street