The worst MP attendance records

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

If you want to know how often your MP shows up for votes in Parliament, you'll want to check out Glen McGregor's latest blog post at the Ottawa Citizen.

McGregor has, painstakingly I'm sure, enumerated the records and listed the best and worst. (Note: Unlike the Senate, the House of Commons doesn't publish attendance records so voting records are the best indication of attendance we have.)

Not surprisingly, NDP MP Romeo Saganash has had the most number of absences: he missed 52 per cent of the votes since the May 2011 election. The Quebec MP's attendance record is indicative of his brief NDP leadership run and his leave of absence in 2012 for a substance abuse problem.

[ More Political Points: Ontario Tories talk tough ahead of Tuesday's throne speech ]

The second and third worst attendance records belong to Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani and Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis respectively. Mourani was a Bloc Quebecois leadership candidate and missed a lot of votes for her campaign.

The fourth worst record belongs to Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau. While Trudeau missed 36 per cent of the votes in the lower chamber, McGregor emphasizes that most of those misses are related to his leadership campaign and not his 'speaking circuit' career.

[ Related: Justin Trudeau under fire for earning speaking fees while serving as a Member of Parliament ]

The leaders of the three major parties — Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Bob Rae — are also on the 'worst' list.'

In an interview with the Globe and Mail last year, Bob Rae explained his attendance like this:

"To be perfectly frank and very blunt, when there is a majority government and there is absolutely zero prospect of the government changing its mind on a particular bill, voting is largely symbolic," Rae said.

Gregory Thomas of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation understands that party leaders' dilemma.

"MPs get a bad rap sometimes for a spotty voting record. Jack Layton skewered Michael Ignatieff in the leader’s debate, saying Ignatieff wasn’t doing his job because he wasn’t in the House enough," Thomas told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Ignatieff looked even worse because he didn’t offer a strong explanation for what he was doing when he wasn’t sitting in the House – travelling across Canada, listening to Canadians."

Here's a YouTube video of that classic exchange.

Thomas, however, has less sympathy for the MPs who are running for their party's leadership.

"Canadians with jobs are expected to show up at work. They get in a lot of trouble if they don’t — they get their pay docked," he said.

"Members of Parliament are expected to show up and participate in votes when Parliament is in session. If MPs don’t like it, then they should adjust the Parliamentary schedule to accommodate their leadership campaigns and their travel obligations.

"They shouldn’t just play hooky."

The top 10 'worst' voting record list:

1. Romeo Saganash - NDP
2. Maria Mourani - BQ
3. Jim Karygiannis - LIB
4. Justin Trudeau - LIB
5. Peter Goldring - IND
6. Stephen Harper - CPC
7. Stéphane Dion - LIB
8. Ed Fast - CPC
9. Sean Casey - LIB
10. Irwin Cotler - LIB

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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