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TORONTO, April 18 /CNW/ - A new report on Canadian politics, entitled "It's My Party: Parliamentary Dysfunction Reconsidered," highlights the frustrations that former MPs feel about the way politics
is practiced in Parliament.
The report is issued by Samara, a Canadian charitable organization that conducted an unprecedented
series of exit interviews with 65 former Members of Parliament, who
served an average of 10.3 years and left office between 2006 and 2008.
The report - the third in a series of four - highlights the collective
reflections and advice of these MPs, who represented all political
parties and all regions of the country.
The report outlines how the MPs expressed embarrassment at the public displays of
politics in the House of Commons, saying that little constructive work
takes place there. Instead, the MPs said their most important work was
done away from the media spotlight, in the less publicized venues of
committees and caucus meetings.
When asked why this was the case, the former MPs pointed to the way in
which their own political parties managed themselves, their members and
their work as being at the core of their frustration with Parliament.
The MPs said that decisions from party leadership were often viewed as
opaque, arbitrary and even unprofessional. Furthermore, those
decisions often ran counter to MPs' stated motivations for entering
public life in the first place: the desire to practice politics
Notably, these comments were consistent across all parties represented
in the House and did not single out any one party specifically.
"Democracy relies on citizen engagement to thrive, but if the public
face of politics embarrasses our MPs, is it any wonder that citizens
turn away?" said Michael MacMillan, Samara's co-founder and chair.
"If parties play a role in the current challenges facing Canadian
politics, then they also have a role to play in helping to overcome
them," added Alison Loat, Samara's co-founder and executive director.
"It may well be time to discuss ways to revitalize our political
parties, recognizing this process is integral to ensuring the health of
This report is part of an ongoing series of publications derived from the MP exit
interviews conducted by Samara, in partnership with the Canadian
Association of Former Parliamentarians. The first report, "The Accidental Citizen?," outlined the MPs' backgrounds and paths to politics. The second, "Welcome to Parliament: A Job With No Description," documented the disparate and often conflicting views the MPs expressed
as to the essential purpose of their job and what they were elected to
accomplish. They also acknowledged feeling unprepared for their roles
as Parliamentarians, and said they received little training or
orientation. The final report, to be released later this year, will
summarize the MPs' advice for strengthening our democracy.
Samara is a charitable organization whose programs seek to strengthen Canada's
democracy. Co-founded by Michael MacMillan and Alison Loat, Samara was created out of a belief that public service and public leadership
matter to Canada's future. Samara's work focuses on three areas: political leadership, public affairs
journalism and citizen participation in public life.
Samara is also developing a Democracy Index to measure the health of Canadian democracy. This will serve as a
report card, looking at a broad set of indicators that can help assess
how Canadian democracy is working. The results will be released
annually to encourage discussion and focus attention on the continued
strengthening of Canada's democracy.
Samara is looking for volunteers to assist in its work. If interested, please
visit www.samaracanada.com for more information on how to contribute.
You can also follow Samara on Twitter, join the Facebook group, and check out their podcasts in the iTunes Store.
/NOTE TO EDITORS: Media Assets accompanying this story are available as
For further information:
To schedule an interview with the reports' authors or to get more information, please contact Samara at: 416-960-7925 firstname.lastname@example.org