Ontario Election 2011: Visualizing the Platforms

Last April, in the lead-up to the federal election, I posted visual representations of all of the platforms the major political parties of Canada. I thought of it as a quick and fun way to visualize some of the major themes that can be found in the platforms, as well as a way to give a bit of insight into what the political parties stand for (or, at least, what they say they stand for).

With the upcoming provincial election here in Ontario, I’ve decided to repeat the process. As with last time, all of the graphics in this post were generated with a free online tool called Wordle, using the text extracted from the PDFs of the party’s official platforms, taken from their websites. Wordle uses proprietary algorithms to put the words together into an aesthetically pleasing representation of any chosen body of text, where the size of the word is representative of its frequency (i.e. the more often a word appears in the text, the larger it will be in the generated graphic).

For the purpose of generating these graphics, all of the words that you would expect to find repeated in the platforms (like “Ontario” and “government”) were left in, but things like page numbers, repetitive text in headers and footers, numbers and letters marking bullet points, budget figures, and non-platform pages (like contact information) were omitted. There were some judgement calls here, especially due to the varying formats of the platforms, but I tried to apply these rules as consistently as I could. This resulted in the following images (click on each image to enlarge):

Green Party of Ontario

Ontario Liberal Party

Ontario NDP

Ontario PC Party

3 Responses to “Ontario Election 2011: Visualizing the Platforms”

  1. Eamon Knight says:

    The way I read that: The Liberals are mostly just waving the “Ontario” flag, the Conservatives are basically the same except for adding “families” (another trigger word for a certain segment of the population), and only the NDP and Greens are talking about issues to any significant extent.

    No that’s not an endorsement of any of them, except that we have a tea-partier running in my (hitherto Tory) riding….

  2. Ethan says:

    Wordle is pretty cool. I like to put in random blogs and see what pops up. It would be interesting to look at how often certain words pop up in the party platforms. Particularly words like “Ontario” or “People” or something, especially since those words usually lack any real context in political platforms and are more like buzz words or something.

  3. Composer99 says:

    Curious that the PC party platform is the one which has individual names come up more than any other party’s (if indeed individual names come up at all in other parties’ platforms).

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  • Mitchell Gerskup

    Mitchell Gerskup recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Economics and Philosophy. An avid atheist and skeptic, he has served as the President of the University of Toronto Secular Alliance, helping to promote science, reason and critical thinking around Toronto. He also volunteers with the Centre for Inquiry’s Ontario branch, and currently sits on the CFI’s Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism. Mitchell is also an accomplished competitive debater, having debated all across Canada. In addition to issues of economics and philosophy, Mitchell is interested in the fields of science and technology.