Some of the discussion about The Accidental Citizen?, including that which occurred over at Maclean's, raised a bunch of questions on the backgrounds, demographics and tenures of our Members of Parliament - what they are, how they've changed, and what implications that may have on our politics. So we promised to do a little digging and get back to you.
Our first post was on the general demographics, and showed the House is more male, whiter and more often comprised of citizens born here than is the Canadian population (although there's some variation by party).
They're also a lot more white collar too, at least judging by the jobs they had just before coming to Parliament.
70% of our MPs come from one of four job categories: business/finance; law; government and education. The first and third are admittedly broad, but there's the breakdown:
- 30% business and/or finance
- 16% law
- 14% government (this includes politics)
- 12% education
The remaining 30% worked in ten different fields:
- Consultant/self-employed (5%)
- Natural resources and agriculture (5%)
- Health and social services (4%)
- Advocacy (4%)
- Arts and culture (3%)
- Trades and transportation (2%)
- Engineering (2%)
- Public safety (1%)
- Manufacturing (1%)
- Religion (1%)
It is worth noting how these jobs compare with the population of Canada. Most Canadians work in the service sector (77.8%), but 22.2% still work in what StatsCan calls the "goods-producing sector." In the House of Commons, less than 10% of MPs come from this sector, and all of them are male. This probably isn't a surprise, and largely mirrors the wider Canadian population, where nearly all employed women (90%) work in the service sector.
This prompts a similar question to one we posed in The Accidental Citizen?. Although MPs come from a wider set of backgrounds than many generally think, the House isn't as representative of Canadians as it could be. Is this a problem? If so, what could be done about it?