Video Archive

Visit Garth’s archive of 318 parliamentary webcast videos, produced in 2006 to 2008 during his second term as Member of Parliament:

Anyone standing for office, getting elected, faces the same quandary. Do you represent the people, or pursue an agenda? What did the voters really mean? Did they choose the party colours you wore? Or were you asked to go and reflect their hopes and worries?

In short, should an elected person bring the government to the people, or be their voice to the centre? But leaders don’t really want democracy. Leadership is hard and discipline essential. Leaders demand followers. So, the seeds of conflict are sown into the system. As it should be.

In a different time, I was elected to Parliament twice. A dozen years apart. The political fights then were as intense as ever, but the sides hadn’t polarized as they have today. Once upon a time, there was a middle, not just extremes. Conservatives were called ‘Progressive.’ Liberals were fiscally responsible. People compromised. A Trump would have been unthinkable, and the world was not halved between nationalists and globalists, deplorables and the antifa.

When elected the second time, I opted to be a democrat, not a partisan. Key to that was using the new technologies to try and bring the people into Parliament. I was the first MP to blog. My constituents were given a vote alongside the politicians in real time as bills hit the floor of the House of Commons. And then came MPtv.

I bought a mess of video and editing gear (no tax money spent) and used my office budget to hire a videographer/editor instead of a babe to carry my briefcase. We built a studio in the office, then worked to make The Hill less mysterious, less clubby, less closed and less cloistered. The PMO was shocked. Harper hated it. The whip was on my case daily. House of Commons cops had no idea how to react and sometimes ejected me from the Commons lobby. And my Conservative colleagues rebelled when I turned the camera on MPs and leaders from other parties and invited them to explain what they believed, and why.

Ultimately this experiment in digital democracy was my undoing. The Harper government punted me out of caucus. The Conservative Party disowned me. My electoral fate was sealed. This may have been visionary, or foolhardy. I have yet to decide that. But the work stands for itself.

Days ago my longtime webmaster William Stratas unearthed hundreds of episodes shot during that period, akin to finding a giant intact fuzzy, smiling mastodon entombed in a melting glacier. “We should remind people,” he said. And we should.

The MPtv video archive is here. Viewer discretion is advised. Seriously.

By the way, here’s the MPtv video from October 25, 2006, the day before I got thrown out of my spiffy office.


Background notes from William Stratas, Garth’s webmaster:

After Garth’s election as MP in January 2006, YouTube, having launched only 2 years prior, was mostly populated by cat videos and people doing stupid stuff. Therefore, Garth and I decided to host MPtv on a competing service, Google Video, a higher-branded and more reputable site. Google acquired YouTube in October 2006, then several years later closed down Google Video. In June 2012 Google transferred all remaining deactivated video files to private accounts hosted at YouTube, which by then had become mainstream and wildly popular. And that’s where 318 MPtv videos published in 2006 to 2008 remained dormant — until now.