Federal Election

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U of O student looks to demystify our democracy’s finances

Olivia Dorey wants to change how voters interact with government. Photo: Eric Davidson

Olivia Dorey, former parliamentary page, founder of Matters, and third-year public administration student at the University of Ottawa is working on a platform to make Canada’s financial data more clear.

Leading up to the federal election on Oct. 19, voters are bombarded with a lot of information. But too often, the numbers are incomplete or impossible to decipher.

Dorey is looking to change that.

“I decided that I wanted to build a website where people could go to find out how their taxes are being spent, and how it impacts them as individuals,” she said.

The website itself won’t be here for a while. “It’s probably ten years down the road,” said Dorey, but that doesn’t mean Dorey is sitting on her hands.

“Our organization is going on Parliament hill, talking to all three levels of government to try and get them to change the way they account for finances,” she said, “It’s dorky, very dorky.”

It’s also very important.

For the upcoming election, it can be hard for voters to figure out what’s really going on with our country’s finances, especially since every party tells a different story.

For example, in September it was announced that Canada was in a recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. The different parties all had very different takes on what this meant for Canadians.

After analyzing what political party leaders talked about most in speeches and press releases, the CBC found that the economy trounced all other issues.

“One interesting thing about Matters is that we’re non-partisan,” said Dorey. “What we’re looking to encourage is critical thought and transparency in discourse about politics.”

“If people are interested in getting involved but they haven’t really started with politics before, I recommend that they try out Vote Compass,” Dorey said, an online tool that shows voters how their views align with candidates running for election.

Dorey believes this is a good starting point for someone trying to see where they fit into the political spectrum.“Once it gives you your recommendation, then you can go look up the party platforms,” she said.

Dorey will also be participating in a CBC panel following the next leader’s debate on Sept. 24.

“There’s a small panel of us that will be discussing it from a non-partisan perspective,” she said. “We’ll be saying ‘here’s what this means to you.’”

With the confusion around numbers in this election, it’s not hard to see why Dorey’s mission to decipher our country’s financial data really matters.