September 28, 2011

Parliament 2.0: a case for digitizing democracy

By Fiona O'Connor
Mark Dance is a graduate of the University of King’s College and an alumnus of the Parliamentary Internship Programme. Samara is pleased to introduce the first of three excerpts adapted from his final research paper for the programme, “Radical Digital Democracy in a Canadian Context: The Case for a Fourth Institution of Parliament.” Mark currently lives in New York City, where he... [More]

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September 13, 2011

PSA: We'll be in Ottawa on Thursday talking citizen engagement. Please come!

By Alison Loat
This Thursday, September 15th, I'll be a panelist in a seminar exploring how to better connect citizens to the democratic process. It's free and open to the public, so please join us if you can. My bit is entitled "Citizens, Reconnected: What young people and politicians can teach us about reinvigorating citizen engagement in Canada's democracy." In addition to auditioning for the longest present... [More]

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March 24, 2011

Too many talks on citizen engagement miss the point

By Alison Loat
This morning I watched the stimulating "Talking to the Public" panel, part of the annual Walter Gordon Symposium on Public Policy. This year its advertised focus was on "Democracy, Expertise and Politics." I'll post a summary of the speakers' talks soon (you can read my Twitter feed if you just can't wait!), but what struck me at this panel -- and strikes me at most discussions concerned with cit... [More]

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September 22, 2010

"One way to provide a welcome antidote to a public's cynicism to the political system"

By Alison Loat
Yonge Street Media, an online publication here in Toronto, published a lovely piece on Samara today.  It's a great overview of what we're working on, why we're doing it, how we approach our work and the difference we hope it will make.  We'd be grateful if you took a few minutes to read it, and pass it along if you think others might be interested in our work.  You can follow its a... [More]

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August 17, 2010

Census, media and the public debate: a response

By Grant Burns
The response to the essay I posted yesterday has been fascinating. From the comments on the Samara blog to those on Aaron Wherry's Beyond the Commons post and all places in between (well, just Twitter, really), I've read the reactions of supporters, detractors and those who've used my argument as a point of departure. I thank anyone who's jumped in for their contributions. This is an importan... [More]

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August 4, 2010

Those darn kids again (revisited)....

By Alison Loat
In the wake of last week's discussion between Max Fawcett and me on the nature of political and quasi-political participation among Gen Yers, an interesting piece on volunteerism that sheds some light onto the important connection between volunteerism and political engagement. The article centres on a study on 500 American high schoolers who were engaged in community service, either of their own ... [More]

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July 30, 2010

Those darn kids again....

By Alison Loat
Earlier this month I participated in an interesting discussion, via The Mark Radio, on the public's engagement with politics - where it's at and how it can be better.  In response, Max Fawcett penned a thoughtful post, rightfully pointing out that engagement in traditional politics is only one way of engaging in public life. In theory and in practice, this is true. As a university instruc... [More]

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June 13, 2010

Why care about politics?

By Alison Loat
The MPs list a range of issues, local to national to international, that inspired them to run for federal office. What inspires your interest in politics? What would inspire greater interest?

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May 23, 2010

The "politics of the libertarian mob"

By Alison Loat
Thanks to Douglas Reid for passing along this excellent article by Mark Lilla that reflects on the current state of politics in America specifically, and in western democracies more generally. Too multi-faceted to summarize here, it gets into the causes and implications of people's well-reported decline in trust for government and other collective institutions in society, and hints that our quest... [More]

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April 15, 2010

And on that point...

By Alison Loat
For all the whinging about complacency lately, this week has produced not one but two important citizen-led public projects aimed to bring transparency and accessibility to government. Earlier this week we saw the launch of OpenParliament.ca. Today, the launch of Datadotgc.ca.  In the words of its founder, it was created because "as citizens, we want our governments to open up and share the... [More]

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April 14, 2010

We the people...

By Alison Loat
Former Clerk of the Privy Council (that's like the CEO of the federal public service) Alex Himmelfarb wonders if we "get the politics we deserve." Canadians seem happy, Himmelfarb notes, to "focus close to home" and "on the short term." Rather than engage in a much-needed public debate on how we should handle issues like healthcare, poverty and climate change, we seem content to put off tough publ... [More]

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