Friday Fill(ibuster): Connection Imperfection?

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Political News Friday, December 12, 2014 View Count = 1286

Friday Fill(ibuster): Connection Imperfection?

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Our 2014 MP website research was released this week with a rich account of how parliamentarians use their homepages to connect with Canadians: for the second year in a row, an analysis of 299 websites shows that many Members of Parliament fail to use digital outlets to give citizens the ability to engage with politics or to share their views. The Ottawa Citizen had an article all about the work.

And technology isn’t just intersecting with politics on websites. RESULTS Canada has an indiegogo campaign going on to help inform Canadians about how to conduct conversations with their MPs.

Former Department of Finance operators Scott Clark and Peter Devries argue on ipolitics that “cutting the GST by two points will go down in Canadian fiscal history as one of the worst public finance decisions ever.” And in other fiscal news, the Globe reports that the federal government might be tying its own hands with its approach to selling its own assets.

MP Michael Chong’s Reform Act passed the committee stage of the legislative process this week. The jury is still out on whether the Act has been diminished excessively by committee amendments but Samara co-founder Michael MacMillan had a piece in the Globe arguing that Parliament should pass the bill before the election clock ticks to zero. And we featured a wonderful speech on our blog this week from one of the bill’s most eloquent supporters, MP James Rajotte: “I ask all Members of Parliament to support this important bill to redress the imbalances that have occurred over decades in our country. The powers of the executive have grown and the strength of the legislative branch, unfortunately, has diminished. We need to restore the proper balance between the executive and the legislative. A true parliamentary democracy requires representative institutions, but it also requires responsible government. We need to honour these fundamental traditions of our parliamentary democracy.

And we’re getting to that part of December where we start looking back on the year that was. Samara’s Tragedy in the Commons makes the Hill Times Best Books in 2014 while CBC’s At Issue panel had their year-end review with winners, losers and surprises.

And on to next year: 2015 is set to be a historic election in a number of ways but Chantal Hebert shows that it will have the peculiar characteristic of seeing both of the Houses of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate, in play. And Jason Kirby at Maclean’s dropped 35 graphs of trends to watch in 2015—everything from shrinking federal revenues to interprovincial migration trends. Woh, that’s a lot of data.

Speaking of Maclean’s, Nick Taylor-Vaisey chatted online this week with Parliamentarians of the Year, with cameos from Samara Everyday Political Citizens like Neeta Kumar-Britton and Kevin Vuong. Check out the records of the chats, including independent conservative MP Brent Rathgeber explaining how the party system is broken.

A couple of Samara’s Everyday Political Citizens (like Claire Prashaw!) also appeared in the Toronto Star this week to explain how Canada’s biggest city is divided and how it can perhaps be unified. And one of last year’s finalists for EPCitizen, Idil Burale, will be speaking at the MaRS Discover District in Toronto next week about her experience running for office—you can RSVP here.

When do young people get involved in politics? TVO’s Agenda talks to Canada’s youngest deputy mayor while a UK study indicates that a larger gap in the ages of candidates can make a difference. Meanwhile, pollster Frank Graves explains that young Canadians are finding themselves on the outside of politics: “Every country needs to harness the dynamism and ebullience of youth to grow and adapt. More and more, however, young Canada is opting to sit on the sidelines. It may well be that the democratic malaise and economic stagnation we’re encountering in this new century are linked in part to this generational schism — one which augurs badly for Canada’s future social and economic well-being.”

We started with websites but we end with the old fashioned way to connect. Bruce Anderson had a fine piece in the Globe on how “the very best leaders are brilliant at shaping and punching their message through the clutter – but they are remarkable listeners too.”

Thanks for reading! Come on back next week for the holiday issue and the last Friday Fill(ibuster) of the year!

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