House of Commons 2012

House of Words


How does debate in the House of Commons divide along the gender, age and party affiliation?

Pierre Berton’s War of 1812 contains 290,519 words. If 28 copies of the book were shelved side by side, they would contain a total of 8 million words, roughly the total number of words spoken by MPs over the past year.

Click on the options below—gender, age and political party—then scroll over the bookshelf to see how Commons debate breaks down

Like this? Check out MPs by the Books.

Samara’s latest Democracy Report, “Lost in Translation or Just Lost”, examined a total of 54 days of debate in the House of Commons, divided over three periods during 2012. We used the word counts from this research to generate projections for the total words spoken over the 129 days the House of Commons sat last year. As such, there is likely some variation across these estimates and actual words spoken in the House. Words spoken in committees were not included. All word counts reflect the original English or English-translation from French. 

For the "MP by the Books" infographic, Samara matched selected MPs with a book containing close to the same number of words MPs had spoken. You can click here to see the complete list of MPs and their word counts. Notably, only 302 MPs are included rather than 308. MPs that resigned part way through 2012 (Lee Richardson, Bev Oda, Denise Savoie) were omitted, as well as MPs who regularly occupied the Speaker’s Chair (Andrew Scheer, Bruce Stanton, Barry Devolin).

* When it comes to the party leaders, the Bloc Québécois leader, Daniel Paillé, is absent in the analysis because he is not currently elected to the House Commons.

Thanks to our friends at Kobo Books, who provided precise word counts for the range of books. Sydney Helland Photography generously provided photos for this project, and graphic design was by Emma Jenkin.