Left: Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins

Left: Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins

Central Alberta MPs decline comment on records

Three Central Alberta MPs didn’t respond to requests for comment on a story about their speaking records in the House of Commons.

Three Central Alberta MPs didn’t respond to requests for comment on a story about their speaking records in the House of Commons.

That’s not surprising, according to a study that suggests the trio are reluctant to have their voices heard.

A charitable organization that studies Canadian democracy has released its analysis of how many words each member of Parliament spoke in the House of Commons in 2012. In the bottom 10 — Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins and Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen.

According to the data, Calkins spoke 1,667 words in 2012, the eighth lowest total among the 302 MPs included in the study. Dreeshen was one spot better, having uttered 1,670 words.

Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson was 213th on the list at 10,912 words said.

Samara, the organization conducting the study, examined 54 days of debate over three periods in 2012 and projected the word counts from those days to come up with a number for the 129 days the House sat last year. The totals do not include words spoken in parliamentary committees.

At the top of the list was B.C. NDP MP Peter Julian, whose total was 226,027 words spoken. Julian’s 13-hour filibuster in objection to last year’s budget boosted his total.

At the bottom of the list, with 963 words spoken, was Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders.

Those MPs who resigned, were elected in byelections, or regularly served in the Speaker’s chair in 2012 were not counted in the study.

Samara also broke down the words spoken by each party, gender and age group in the House.

It found that female MPs spoke 31 per cent of the words, despite taking up only 25 per cent of the seats in the House; MPs under 35 — nine per cent of the House population ­— spoke 11 per cent of its words.

The majority Conservative caucus, meanwhile, spoke only 36 per cent of the body’s words and had 28 of the 30 most mute members.

NDP MPs, counting for 33 per cent of all members, spoke 44 per cent of the words. Liberals made up for 16 per cent of the total talking, with only 11 per cent of all MPs.

The lone Green Party MP was easily the most talkative party leader, speaking 174,783 words.

In its study, Lost in Translation or Just Lost?, Samara also looked at the disconnect between what Canadians believe happens in Ottawa versus what actually goes on.

For more on the study, visit www.samaracanada.com.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com