NB: This infographic represents a snapshot in time (August--September 2013).
Check out our tips for a great Member of Parliament website.
As the internet has brought new information and services to our desktops, so too do MPs’ websites offer an opportunity for citizens to better connect to their elected leaders and understand how they represent them.
But are politicians taking full advantage of this opportunity?
Samara’s 2012 citizens’ survey indicated that Canadians expect more from their MPs, and gave them failing grades in most areas of their responsibility, including representing constituents’ views (46%).
Between August and September 2013, Samara visited Canadian MPs’ websites to see how many elements on a 14-point checklist could be located (see full methodology here). These elements—represented in the infographic above—reflect the ways a constituent can contact an MP, the work an MP does, and the ways MPs involve Canadians in the political process.
Members of Parliament are great at offering their constituents the basic information about themselves, but they perform poorly at offering ways for Canadians to engage with politics or have input on decisions and policy.
While MPs’ websites, on average, include 7 out of 14 items on the checklist, only three websites checked off 12 items, and none encompassed all 14.
Five MPs appear to have no website at all.
Most MP websites (97%) provide the bare necessities, such as contact information and biographies.
- However, mentioning their office hours remains an exception—only 15% of MP websites provide this information.
The majority of MPs report on their work on Parliament Hill (73%) and their work in the riding (60%).
- 60% have a calendar of events MPs have attended or will attend locally.
- 63% describe what services their offices offer constituents.
To maintain ongoing connections with interested citizens beyond the webpage, only 47% of MPs offer an e-newsletter sign-up.
- More commonly, MPs link to their other social media accounts (61%).
MPs don’t seem interested in soliciting citizens’ opinions online:
- Less than 1 in 4 MPs’ websites encourage citizens to sign or submit petitions.
- Very few (4%) offer the chance to volunteer with the MP office.
- Only 1 in 10 MP websites have a space for a public exchange, such as a comment box on a news post or a discussion group.
The scores differed most when we compared parties—more than when we compared regions, gender or age.
- Independent MPs scored the highest, at 8/14
- Conservatives (6.9), Liberals (7.2) and NDP (7.8) fell around the middle.
- Bloc, with 6/14, was rated the lowest.
Call to Action
This analysis points to a simple list of 14 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.
- Share this infographic on social media.
- Check out and recognize the MP websites that were rated highest.
- Find your MP’s website and let them know what you’d like to improve.
- Send your representative our Website Checklist for Elected Leaders.