As they say, knowledge is power.
And Imagine-X plans to put more of both in B.C. voters’ hands, particularly as the May 9 provincial election nears.
A group of a dozen or so Lower Mainland residents, claiming to be self-funded and free of political affiliation, has developed a web app that offers users rapid access to the voting records of all of B.C.’s MLAs, covering 109 standing votes between July 2013 to July 2016.
Those who click on the link, at Imagine-x.ca/votes, will find instructions on how to use it.
“What brought us together is our concern with the current political landscape, and to build a better B.C.,” says Surrey resident Fred Bantados, the spokesman for Imagine-X (pictured).
Bantados, 29, works as an accountant in the tech sector and has a degree in biochemistry and business administration from Simon Fraser University.
“We believe there’s a better way we can do politics in B.C. We want to put the power, the knowledge, in the voters, the constituents hands,” he says of himself and his colleagues, all in the 25 to 55-year-old age range.
Bantados says they dream of what this province could be if it weren’t “hindered” by party-whipped politics, and expect considerable traffic on their website as the election gets closer.
“It’s the first of its kind,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of good feedback.”
The source of this free database, which you can view in a web browser, is Hansard, which transcribes parliamentary debates and actions.
“Anything on the Hansard database gets pulled right in,” Bantados explains. “We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you.”
Users are presented with a series of columns they can click on to discover the details of the vote, with each dot representing an MLA who voted. If the dot is above the middle line, the vote was “Yay.”
The application reveals that, between July 2013 and July 2016, a mere 1.8 per cent of all votes cast — just two — were cast outside party lines. One-hundred per cent of the Liberal government’s initiatives passed, while all else failed.
“The data shows MLAs are voting more along the party line,” Bantados noted. “It makes me question if really they are voting in their constituents’ best interests.”
It also helps voters to keep track of their local MLA, to help them decide if the MLA is representing them in Victoria, or representing Victoria to them.
The idea, ultimately, is to help voters see if what their MLA is telling them, particularly during the election campaign, matches how they’ve been voting in the legislative assembly.
Meantime, another interesting website for those who want to keep track of what their local MP is up to in Ottawa is Openparliament.ca, which contains information on any given MPs’ speeches in the House of Commons, bills and votes, as well as information on federal government committees.