From Chief of the Land Staff to chief enforcer for the Liberal Party, former army commander Andrew Leslie has agreed to serve as the Party’s chief whip in the House of Commons.
“I have every confidence in the remarkable abilities of retired Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie. He will ensure that our members in Parliament are in the right places at the right time, and ensure that we remain focused on implementing our plan for a positive, ambitious, open, and transparent government. I am thrilled that he is a part of our strong team committed to returning a voice to Canadians in Ottawa,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.
Leslie is a notable figure in the military community with a 35-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces, serving four of those years as the Chief of the Land Staff Army Commander. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Order of Military Merit, the Meritorious Service Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, the General Campaign Star and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond and Jubilee Medal.
Thus far, Leslie is also an influential figure in the political arena. He was co-chair for the International Advisory Committee for the Liberal Party and is well known for a report he authored on reform within the CAF. He took his riding of Orleans in the elections with over 55 per cent of the vote.
As whip, it is Leslie’s job to gather enough party members’ votes on key issues and their voices for key debates. The whip also determines which committees party members sit on, assigns offices and seats in the House and encourages members to keep in line with party rhetoric.
The Liberal Party has, however, promised free votes for MPs in their Party platform. The platform explicitly states that members of the Liberal Caucus’ votes will be free votes with the exception of traditional confidence matters, like the budget; votes that address shared values and protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and those that conflict with campaign promises.
Trudeau has notably stated that abortion rights trump the rights of an MP to vote their conscious.
The whip is paid an extra $28,420 on top of the regular MP salary that is just under $168,000.