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Time to bring the Legislature into the 21st Century

(Queen's Park Report -- April 22, 2008) My colleague Bob Runciman, MPP for Leeds-Grenville, advanced a great idea this week when he suggested it was time to have the Legislature's daily proceedings streamed live on the Internet for Ontarians to watch.

I am one of the first MPPs to broadcast timely videos of my work in the Legislature online.  About an hour after Question Period, my questions appear on a video posted online at www.jimwilsonmpp.com.  You can also watch my statements, my contributions to debates and my reactions to topical issues such as the provincial budget.

In 1986, the Legislative Assembly began broadcasting its daily proceedings on television.  The Ontario Parliament Network is a way to engage Ontarians in public policy discussions and let them see what their elected officials were doing each day in Question Period and during legislative debate.  

While the parliamentary network is available, we can do a better job to extend our reach.  In today's world, we are constantly communicating through the Internet, YouTube and a host of other corresponding technologies.  For many citizens, it is impossible to function without a constant reliance on operating systems that cover the spectrum from mobile handheld devices to notebook PCs that have instant access to the Internet.

Why can't we watch the Legislature online?  In the United States you can.  In fact, I am online right now watching the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives debate Rail Capacity.  And hey, if you missed last week's meeting on the Clean Water Restoration Act, well you can dig into the archives and watch it at your convenience.

The reality is that most Ontarians aren't home at 2 o'clock in the afternoon to watch Question Period.  Why shouldn't you be able to watch it later?  Or better still, turn to it online as you work away at your computer.

In an age where presidential candidates have debates on YouTube, and when major television networks post videos of their top news stories online, we deserve to have the option of following our legislative proceedings in the same way that we track breaking news, messages from our friends and neighbours and items that affect our daily lives.


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