Members of Parliament speaking

MPs by the Books


Canada's House of Commons is really a House of Words—almost 8 million in 2012. But when it comes to debate on the floor of the Commons, some MPs have much more to say than others. What do 200,000 words, 70,000 words or 1000 words look like?

With thanks to several famous Canadian books, a bookshelf helps us visualize the differences. Scan over the book spines below to see which MP spoke about as many words as each book contains. We've included the most talkative MPs, the least talkative, the leaders of the political parties* and a few cabinet ministers.

Like this? Check out how the House of Words stacks up by party, gender and age.

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 "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.