November 30, 2011

Democracy’s great. It’s the politics I hate…

By Wayne Chu
At least, that’s what people across the country have been telling us. In recent years, we have seen voter turnout fall to historic lows, and the number of people involved in political activities of all kinds is decreasing. Given this problem, we wanted to know: Why are people disengaging from politics? There are lots of reasons out there, but we wanted to get some answers to this question... [More]

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October 13, 2011

Friends in Niagara, save the date: Alison Loat to speak at Ridley College Oct.18th

By Fiona O'Connor
For anyone in the Niagara region who may be interested, on Tuesday October 18th Samara executive director Alison Loat will be in St. Catharines to give a talk entitled “Our Accidental Politics: What Former MPs Tell Us About Canadian Democracy.” Part of the MGI-Gordon Distinguished Speakers Series at Ridley College, the event is free and open to the public. In it Alison will explore som... [More]

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April 14, 2011

Democracy Bootcamp, tonight at 8pm (Toronto)

By Alison Loat
One of my all-time-favourite civics organizations is Student Vote, a fabulous organization that runs parallel elections in schools to help kids learn about democracy and practice the habit of voting. For the coming federal election, there are nearly 4,200 schools signed up across Canada. Tonight at 8pm, I have the privilege of moderating a town hall with candidates Bob Rae (Lib), Peggy Nash (NDP)... [More]

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March 24, 2011

On Parliament, take one

By Alison Loat
A few weeks ago, over at Maclean's, Aaron Wherry penned a special report on Parliament, whose title "The House of Commons is a sham" summarizes his thesis pretty clearly. There are several threads I'd like to pick up on -- and I will do so in greater detail when we release our third MP Exit Interview report, which summarizes how the MPs talk about their work in Ottawa -- but to start, I'll touch u... [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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January 7, 2011

Vote for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy 2010!

By Andreas Krebs
Our readers submitted their nominations for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2010 and now it's time to vote for your favourite.  Below are the five most frequently mentioned submissions.  Scroll down to vote for your top moment before January 21st, 2011.  The winning moment will be announced by January 31st. On January 23rd, 2010, protests against the federal government... [More]

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January 5, 2011

Nominees for the best moment in Canadian democracy (so far)

By Alison Loat
We’ve had some great entries for our “Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2010” contest. It closes tomorrow, and we want to hear more from you! So far, the anti-prorogation rallies in January topped the list of submissions. Not far behind are the petitions against Jean Charest in Quebec and the HST in British Columbia, as well as the debate on the long form census and protests ... [More]

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December 20, 2010

What was the best moment in Canadian democracy in 2010?

By Alison Loat
In the spirit of our mission to strengthen Canadian democracy, Samara is asking Canadians to participate in identifying the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy 2010. This is designed to encourage Canadians to reflect on the positive moments in our public life that we do not often hear about. The moment could be one that took place inside or outside of Parliament or other legislative chambers. ... [More]

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December 14, 2010

Holiday reads

By Alison Loat
On Sunday's Loat family Christmas party I was mercilessly teased for my somewhat nerdy contributions to the Public Policy Forum's "Booked for the Holidays," an annual compilation of what various public policy types plan to read over the holidays that also ran in the Toronto Star. Many mentioned Stieg Larrson and the Giller prize-winning book The Sentimentalist.  I picked two books that are h... [More]

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October 5, 2010

"Expect political instability and turbulence"

By Alison Loat
  Yesterday Canada2020 convened a panel of pollsters to talk politics.  Although it was in Ottawa, I was able to follow from afar thanks to the Public Policy Forum's Caitlin Kealey and this blog from The Star's Susan Delacourt, where she quotes extensively from Nik Nanos' remarks.  His message was worrisome and spoke to some of the reasons why we started Samara in the first place... [More]

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July 29, 2010

Democracy Boot Camp

By Alison Loat
Thank you very much to Taylor Gunn and the crew at Student Vote for including us in their Democracy Boot Camp, a three-day workshop for high school teachers that featured new ways to engage students in our democracy.  We had a great time sharing the results of The Accidental Citizen? (captured below for posterity), and of course had to remind/warn the teachers that nearly 25% of the MPs we in... [More]

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February 10, 2010

How to measure a good democracy

By Alison Loat
I'm working my way through this report on Canada's democratic engagement, released recently by The Institute of Wellbeing, an organization that develops and regularly produces statistical reports on various aspects of Canada's well being. The upshot is that our democracy is in a pretty ho-hum state. No surprise there. The researchers have done a very thorough job of pulling together the lite... [More]

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