June 30, 2010

"This has both positive and negative consquences for Canadian democracy"

By Alison Loat

Yesterday's Globe and Mail carried a thoughtful editorial reflecting on the findings in The Accidental Citizen? (and conveniently provides a fantastic 500 word summary of the report and its main implications for those who don't have time to read the whole thing).

The Globe's piece rightfully points out that the report, which highlights the varied and often unexpected ways many MPs described their journeys to public life, has both positive and negative consquences for Canadian democracy.  To quote the editorial: "While it is reassuring that [MPs feel] they are able to succeed, no matter their political pedigree, [the report] raises troubling questions about the epxerience and ability of MPs to accomplish the business of governing."

The Globe also highlights the MPs' self-characterization as "outsiders." It argues that the lack of "political class" in Canada is not "wholly welcome news" because it can result in many MPs feeling unprepared when they arrive in Ottawa.  "MPs must appreciate the institution of Parliament in order to work within it," The Globe says.  And this must go beyond hurling insults.  It quotes David Docherty, author of Mr. Smith Goes to Ottawa: "If politicians hold politics in contempt, then how do you expect Canadians to feel?"

The editorial board concludes with this: "The study is the first time anyone has explored MPs' motivations in a systematic way, and should be used as a basis to further understand how the pathways to power really work," pointing out that for all the welcome emphasis on "outsiders," insiders who "understand the nature of the institution and its idiosyncrasises are just as vital to Canadian democracy."

You can read the full editorial here.

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June 30, 2010 18:20 PM

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September 1, 2010 21:08 PM

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The inexperienced lifer (II) - Beyond The Commons - Macleans.ca

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March 24, 2012 08:45 AM

One of the most eagerly anticipated exercises in Canadian civics research has been released. Entitled The Accidental Citizen, it’s a report on a series of exit interviews with former MPs, and was conducted by Michael MacMillan and Alison Loat at Samara. Alison was on The Current this morning, you can stream or podcast it from the CBC site if you missed it.

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