25th Trillium Award

Samara Uses Books to Show How Much MPs Speak in the House of Commons

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Samara, a non-partisan charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada, is celebrating the upcoming summer reading season by using books to illustrate how much MPs speak in the House of Commons. They have created a couple infographics, including “MPs by the Books” and “House of Words”. “MPs by the Books” shows the most talkative and least talkative MPs and allows people to see how their own MP ranked; the sizes of various books are used to demonstrate how much each MP spoke. “House of Words” reveals how word counts vary by age, gender and party, and it demonstrates that underrepresented groups speak more than they represent.

Samara’s study reveals that over 8 million words were spoken in total by MPs in the House of Commons, and the website uses Pierre Berton's War of 1812 to demonstrate what 8 million words really looks like — 28 copies of the book would amount to the total words spoken. The infographic also shows that some MPs spoke as little as the length of the children’s book M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet (963 words), while others spoke as much as 222, 451 words — the length of Conrad Black’s A Matter of Principle.

The key points made by this study are:

  • Conservative MPs take up less air time than the NDPs.
  • The most talkative MPs are Peter Julian, Kevin Lamoureux, Elizabeth May and Kellie Leitch.
  • The quietest MPs are Alice Wong, Tilly O’Neill-Gordon and Rob Anders.
  • Stephen Harper spoke less than all four leaders and Elizabeth May spoke more than all party leaders combined.
  • Underrepresented groups speak more than their numbers suggest.

Samara’s findings were based on the observations of a total of 54 days of debate in the House of Commons that were divided over three periods during 2012. Click here to view the total amount of words your MP spoke.

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