Thursday, February 26, 2009

How They Voted - Coming Soon!

Word this week that the House of Commons is finally going to have an on-line, publicly accessible record of how MP's vote on bills and motions put before the House.

You would think this would be a no-brainer. After all, in order to have transparent and accountable representative government, you need to have transparent and accountable representatives, right? You need to know HOW they're exercising your franchise, so you can either approve, disapprove and tell them so, or disapprove, tell them so and vote them out of office if they don't seem to care about your disapproval.

I'd applaud Libby Davies and Peter Milliken for their action on identifying this accountability vacuum and addressing it, however the fact that this has been going on unchecked for so long is quite frankly an embarrassment.

That said, even if it SHOULD have been addressed long ago - at least it's being addressed NOW. Now, it's time for all levels of government to follow suit. The fact that we, as Calgarians, can't readily see how our elected MLA's or City Council voted on particular motions or bills is preposterous (as is the city's penchant for hiding any controversial votes in the "in camera" part of council meetings, for which there is no record, written-or-otherwise, available to the public).

Readers from coast to coast to coast: Are you aware of any jurisdictions within Canada that already offer an on-line Voting Record?

We often see from our friends to the South statements such as "Senator Triggerhappy has a 98% pro-gun voting record", and to a lesser degree the special interest groups keep track of similar statistics here in the Great White North - through painstaking research and reading of council meeting minutes, Hansards, etc. And while *I* read the Hansard for fun, I'll readily admit that most people don't have that warped a sense of what constitutes "fun" - or, for that matter, even tolerable.

Now, the $64,000 question becomes: Which Member of Parliament will break with their party's voting line most often? Any bets?


Kirk Schmidt said...

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Cory Horner, who took innumerable hours to compile the stats from Hansard over the years to give us

Welcome, Parliament of Canada, to teh internetz

daveberta said...

"The fact that we, as Calgarians, can't readily see how our elected MLA's or City Council voted on particular motions or bills is preposterous"

Agreed. I feel the same way about Edmonton MLAs and City Council.

rww said...

For the "back story" see this: