VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Imagine if you could keep an eye on what your member of Parliament is doing by checking your smartphone or computer.
Duff Conacher is a political science professor at the University of Ottawa, and the co-founder of Democracy Watch. He thinks a registry should be set up, so we can easily search our MP to see where they’ve been and how they voted.
He would like to see an app, which serves as an MP tracking software.
“[With] pie charts, showing the breakdown of how much time they’ve spent serving constituents, how much time they’ve spent in the legislature,” explains Conacher. “All of this stuff should be very easily accessible through an online, searchable registry.”
There are similar registries set up for lobbyists.
Conacher says it would be easy enough to set up, and track MPs in near real-time. “MPs would just set up this registry… being watched over by either the Auditor General or the ethics commissioner, and be required to file the details.”
He argues members of parliament lose their right to privacy when they’re on the job, adding voters have a right to know where they are and what they’re doing.
But New Democrat Sheila Malcolmson is one of many MPs questioning the need for such a system. “This might have been a really deep need 10 or 15 years ago. Maybe not so much now.
She points out their agendas are often on the websites and activities in the House of Commons are on TV. She also argues with social media like Twitter, you can easily track your MP’s whereabouts.
“They have a really good sense of what I’m up to every day. Maybe I tell them more than they want to know,” she chuckles.
Liberal Steve MacKinnon is all for transparency but doesn’t think people would get much from such a system.
“I think that would be data that would bore Canadians to death,” he laughs.
Trade Minister Francois Phillipe Champagne says he’s also an open book. “I feel that people know where I am every day because we talk to the press, we engage with citizens — whether it’s at the airport, in the hall, everywhere. It’s very transparent.
Other MPs note that certain government business can’t be made public, like matters of national security.