September 14, 2011

Samara's report reveals former MPs' advice to incoming MPs

By Alison Loat

We are pleased and proud to share with you our final report of the MP Exit Interview project: The Outsiders’ Manifesto: Surviving and Thriving as a Member of Parliament.

With Parliament set to resume next week, The Outsiders’ Manifesto reveals former MPs’ advice to our new Parliamentarians—from what needs to change in Question Period to how to more effectively engage citizens—and recounts their proudest moments in politics.

As this is the last report, we also raise some critical questions about several themes that ran across all the interviews, including the MPs' assertions that they are “outsiders” to the political process, and the varied ways MPs define their roles and serve their constituents locally.

The report is based on Canada’s first-ever series of exit interviews with 65 former Members of Parliament, including 21 cabinet ministers and one prime minister. It highlights the collective reflections of these MPs, who together represented all political parties and all regions of the country.

The MPs’ advice largely focused on improving the culture and practice of politics, and building opportunities for citizens to become better engaged.  Specifically, the MPs recommended:

• Professionalizing the management of MPs and the work of Parliament through
        o sustaining an MP training program from orientation to mentorship; and
        o changing Parliament to increase efficiency and reduce political party interference in House and committee work.
• Improving citizens’ engagement with politics through
        o better civics education;
        o improved mechanisms for citizens to contribute to legislation; and
        o more regular and concrete ways to engage with constituents.

Critical of the ways politics are practiced, the former MPs suggested incoming MPs avoid getting caught up in the so-called “Ottawa bubble.” In fact, they remembered their best work as happening around the edges of political life—working outside Parliament’s agenda or that of their own party.

This echoes a common theme across the interviews, where the MPs—who Canadians no doubt view as consummate insiders—describe themselves as "outsiders" to the political system.

This report is the final of the four-part series of publications derived from the MP exit interviews, the first of their kind in Canada. Thank you again to our partners at the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. Please click here to read the complete series.

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Bop nam

October 27, 2011 08:42 AM

Samara is a charitable organization whose programs work to strengthen Canada's democracy.  Founded in 2009, Samara was created out of a belief that public service and public leadership matter to Canada's future, and its work focuses on three areas: political leadership<a href="http://buyannuity.org/">,</a> public affairs journalism and citizen participation in public life.

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