July 9, 2005
My MP, Betty Hinton, got quite a bit of criticism from the media, from what I thought was a decent record.
Personally, I've had a very good experience with her. I e-mailed Betty several months ago, and received a very thoughtful response. I was interested in Bill C-236, which would reduce the 10-year student loan bankruptcy prohibition rule back to 2 years. I don't have any student loans, but I don't think it's right to discriminate against students. She replied that she thought 10 years was too long, and 2 years was too short; she also said "I look forward to the debate on this bill and to some reasoned amendments." Wow! I was impressed, and quite pleased to see her vote against the majority of her party and in support of the bill at Second Reading. 17 Liberals and 17 Conservatives dissented in that vote, and the bill received full support from the Bloc and NDP, but it did not pass.
Looking at the statistics that I released on howdtheyvote.ca, my opinion was that Mrs. Hinton didn't look bad at all. However, the media did have a point recognizing that the majority of MPs did manage to vote more often than she did (about 83% of them). Of course, not all votes are equal... some are more important than others, and it isn't uncommon to have several votes within a few minutes. In the future a more elaborate feature will need to be developed, to give a better measure of true "attendance", taking into account votes, speeches, committees, et al.
Let's take a closer look:
On March 22nd, 2005, she missed 4 votes within 15 minutes (17:50 --> 18:05)
On March 23rd, 2005, she missed 4 votes within 45 minutes (18:05 --> 18:45)
On June 22nd, 2005, she missed 3 votes within 20 minutes (18:25 --> 18:40)
That's 11 out of 17... they add up quickly.
I probably won't be voting for Betty in the next election, but I certainly won't be discouraging others from doing so.