Here’s a cool idea: a site called How’d They Vote, dedicated to telling you how your MP has voted, how often she or he speaks in the House… and, most fascinating of all, how nasty they are in debate.

HTV has waded 3 per cent of the way through endless hours of verbiage (“I would like to call the House’s attention to the presence in the Gallery of my orthodontist…”) and coding it according to its vituperation level. And that may be HTV’s most important innovation.

The site, operated by a Kamloops engineering grad Corey Horner, offers a prominent link to an extraordinary Time Magazine article by Ottawa Centre MP Ed Broadbent. And as the veteran New Democrat says,

In the current power struggle, the sense that “anything goes” has trumped civil decency. I have heard the Prime Minister’s ethics compared to a toilet bowl; members of the Conservative Party associated with the Ku Klux Klan; cabinet members linked with the Mafia and characters assassinated in ways that would be illegal outside the House of Commons. Daily I have witnessed ordinary citizens in a state of astonishment as they watched this spectacle from the galleries. As I write, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members have decided to boycott House of Commons committees. Without their presence no votes can be taken, no work can be accomplished. Parliament no longer represents our highest political aspirations as a free people. It is a dysfunctional morass.

Rhetorical excess in Canadian politics is nothing new. But it’s hard to deny that it’s become far worse in the past several years. And whether that’s the result of polarization, the influence of partisan discourse south of the border, talk radio or El Ni?±o, it’s poisoning our political culture.

Now somebody’s trying to do something about it. Drop by the site and wish Corey and his volunteers well.

(Thanks to Arjun for pointing this out.)