Last year, Samara Canada analyzed 300 Members of Parliament’s websites to see if they were taking advantage of the opportunity to share information and engage their constituents online. Given how quickly online tools can change, we performed the website analysis again this year to see if our politicians had updated their digital storefronts.
In addition to the 14 data points we looked for last year, we included two new data points: MP’s expenses and information about constituents’ online privacy.
These 16 items—represented in the infographic above—reflect the ways a constituent can contact an MP, the way an MP explains his or her work, and the ways MPs involve Canadians in the political process. These websites offer an opportunity for citizens to better connect to their elected leaders and understand the representative process.
Between May and July 2014, Samara Canada visited 299 Canadian MPs’ websites to see how many elements on a 16-point checklist could be located (see full methodology here).
This year’s findings support the general trend found last year—MPs are more inclined to share information about themselves and their work on the Hill or in the riding than they are to try to begin a conversation with constituents online or encourage their participation in the political process by sharing information about how to get involved. Though the number of MPs who have a space for discussion on their site has doubled, still only 19% of them do.
While MPs’ websites, on average, include 9 out of 16 items on the checklist, only four websites checked off 14 items, and none checked off all 16.
Had Samara used the 2013 14-point checklist, more MPs would have earned a ‘top’ website this year. Indeed, based on the 14-point checklist, 20 MPs would have made it into the top. This is because many MPs added items to their websites in the past year—in fact, 11 items showed improvements of between 1% and 13% points.
What were the biggest changes between 2013 and 2014?
- 39 more MPs tell you about their work in Parliament.
- 30 more MPs include a space for discussion on their websites
- 21 more MPs list their hours of operation
It’s not all good news though
- 15 fewer MPs offer a newsletter sign-up
- 9 fewer MPs are posting information about their constituency work
- 9 fewer MPs link to the central party’s page
- And, still, 3 MPs do not have a website at all.
For the new checklist items, we found:
- 77% of MPs provide details information about how they spend their office budget
- Less than one-quarter of MPs share a policy about how they collect and store an individual’s personal information, such as email addresses.
Congratulations to all the MPs and staffers who updated their website this past year to make it easier to communicate with Canadians. For more helpful tips on how to prepare a website for political leaders, check out our MP Website Checklist.
Here’s the list of the Top MP websites for this year.
A special shout out to five MPs who have top websites two years in a row:
- Don Davies
- Dan Harris
- Peggy Nash
- Murray Rankin
- John Weston
Check out the 2013 infographic.
Call to Action
This analysis points to a simple list of 16 best practices elected leaders—at any level of government—can employ in building or updating their websites so they better inform and engage Canadians.
Here’s how you can help elected officials take greater advantage of the opportunities online media provide to increase citizens’ engagement with politics.