Q&A with James McLeod

Speaking Requests

Samara has built a reputation as a reliable source for original research and informed opinion on Canadian politics. If you are a journalist looking for a comment on Canadian politics, Parliament, political parties, policy development, voting behaviour or political culture, please email José Ramón Martí.

For a full list of Samara's News Coverage, click here


Invite Samara to speak on your program or to your organization

Samara staff are available to speak to a number of topics in Canadian politics. We bring a much-needed non-partisan, research based voice to the discussion. 

If you would like to invite Samara to speak on your program, please email Kendall Anderson

Samara staff are also available to speak at events and conferences. As Samara is a charity, and preparation and travel come at a cost, we ask for a donation to be made to Samara Canada in lieu of a speaker's fee. Cost will depend on participants, venue and the event itself.

If you would like more information or to invite Samara staff to speak at your event or conference, please email Kendall Anderson.

Jane Hilderman

Jane Hilderman is the Executive Director of Samara Canada, a research and educational charity that explores how Canadians participate in democracy, how Members of Parliament do their jobs, and how citizens perceive politics.

Jane is a master's graduate of the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto and a graduate of Queen’s University. She has worked for government and opposition MPs on Parliament Hill through the longstanding non-partisan Parliamentary Internship Program. She hails from Camrose, Alberta where she grew up on a family farm. 


A selection of interviews are featured below

Michael MacMillan

JSB_MichaelMacMillanSamara_20150108_114871-EditMichael is Co-founder and Chair of Samara. Together with Alison Loat, he co-authored the #1 national bestselling book Tragedy in the Commons.

He's also the CEO of the Canadian-based company Blue Ant Media. He was previously the executive chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications. MacMillan co-founded the original Atlantis Films in 1978, which won an Oscar in 1984 for its short film Boys and Girls. A recipient of the Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals for service to Canada, he is also a co-owner of Closson Chase, a vineyard and winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Michael is available for media requests related to Samara's MP Exit Interviews and Tragedy in the Commons. 

A selection of interviews are featured below

Samara's Michael MacMillan on Global Halifax's Morning Show

"How do MPs really feel about their job and the work they do?" Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan on CanadaAM (video).

Alison and Michael share MP Exit Interview stories on this hour-long call-in show with Bill Good on CKNW in Vancouver. 

Michael shares some of his reactions to the exit interviews on Dale Goldhawk's AM740 show and on CBC's Ontario Today with Rita Celli.

 “The truth is that we have a system designed to be controlled by the centre.” Great interview with  Alison and Michael in The TyeeThe Tyee also ran an excerpt from the book.

Alison was recently featured in a special edition of iPolitics about individuals who are changing the way Canadians discuss and engage in politics.

"It's Time to Celebrate Everyday Political Citizens" by Alison Loat in the Huffington Post

"Lean in to political life" by Samara Research Director Jane Hilderman in the Ottawa Citizen
"Rathgeber challenges party dominance of MPs" by Alison Loat in the Ottawa Citizen

Why are MPs here? Good question, an op-ed by Alison Loat in the Ottawa Citizen (reprinted in theLeader Post and the Province)

Technology and Political Campaigns: Not Just Robocalls, a post by Alison Loat in the Huffington Post

Are the Media "Horse Racing" in This Election?, a post by Alison Loat in the Huffington Post

Is Parliament broken? It may be more accurate to say political parties are, an essay by Alison Loat in a special issue of iPolitics

Balancing Family and Work: Challenges Facing Canadian MPs by Royce Koop, James Farney and Alison Loat in Canadian Parliamentary Review

Canadian Politics: it shouldn't take a revolution, an op-ed by Jane Hilderman on iPolitics.ca

Canada's political outsidersan op-ed by Nick Ruderman in The Mark

Wanted: One job description for MPs, an op-ed by Alison Loat, in the Ottawa Citizen

The party's not over, but it needs some life, an essay by Alison Loat, in the Ottawa Citizen

Politicians must reach out to jaded voters, by Kyle Crawford in the Toronto Star (July 7, 2011)

Our (surprisingly?) diverse Parliament, a post by Alison Loat, in the Huffington Post.

What is a Canadian MP's job? They dunno, an op-ed by Alison Loat, in the Globe and Mail

Towards a more purposeful Parliament, an op-ed by Alison Loat, on iPolitics.ca

Our MPs are not Lifers, an essay by Alison Loat, on themarknews.ca

Sizing Up the House of Commons, an essay by Alison Loat, on themarknews.ca

Media, Politics, and You, an essay by Alison Loat, on themarknews.ca

MPs by Accident, an essay by Alison Loat, on themarknews.ca

Let's Not Blame Youth for Voter Apathy, an op-ed by Alison Loat, in the Globe and Mail.


Here you can link to videos of Samara's events and research. Alternatively, you can watch on Samara's YouTube channel.

MP Exit Interviews

 The Outsiders Manifesto, Alison Loat on The Agenda

"It's My Party", Alison Loat on The Agenda

Welcome to Parliament, Alison Loat on The Agenda

The Accidental Citizen, Alison Loat on the Agenda


Journalism Seminars

Paul Steiger

Paul Steiger is the founder and editor-in-chief of ProPublica, a non-profit investigative newsroom and the first online-only news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize.  Here he speaks about ProPublica's creation, the challenges they faced and their plans for the future. 

Watch the video.

Tom Rosenstiel

Tom Rosenstiel is director of the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the author of its annual State of the News Media report. Here he presents the findings of the 2010 report. 

Watch the video.

Ellen Weiss

Ellen Weiss is the Senior Vice-President for News at National Public Radio. Here she talks about how NPR is innovating in its coverage and how its business model has helped it weather the economic downturn.  

Watch the video.

Speakers at Samara

Naheed Nenshi

Elected mayor of Calgary in the fall of 2010, Naheed Nenshi's campaign promised "politics in full sentences." In this video he discusses what distinguished his campaign from the other contenders, the importance of municipalities in the daily lives of Canadians, and how engaging with citizens is central to any political project.

View the video here.

Happening Now Wednesday, April 19, 2017 View Count = 476

Q&A with James McLeod


Smara is excited to once again catch up with the authors shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The annual literary award is presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada to the best nonfiction book on Canadian political and social issues. The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize winner will be announced at the Politics & the Pen gala in Ottawa on May 10.

Every week, we'll feature a Q&A with one of the featured authors. Make sure you don't miss a week by following our blog

Q&A with James McLeod, author of Turmoil, as Usual: Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Road to the 2015 Election

Political_McLeod_Turmoil-As-UsualTell us about the genesis of your book. How did you arrive at the subject?

This book started out as a long email to a friend in 2013. I’d been covering Newfoundland and Labrador politics for a few years at that point, and I often felt like the most colourful, telling, entertaining stuff never made it into the newspaper because it didn’t fit into the classic structure of a daily news story. I’d just come back from covering a political convention where an elderly lady had cheerfully threatened to kill me in full view of a plainclothes police officer and the justice minister (who was pretty drunk at the time) so I sat down to tell my friend about the intensely esoteric weirdness of it all. That email grew into the first chapter of my book, and then I just kept writing, and N.L. politics just kept getting weirder in the lead-up to the 2015 general election.

How was the writing process? Did you face any challenges while writing your book?

The writing process was actually a lot of fun, most of the time. I would often go to a coffee shop on the weekends and just pour out all of the stuff that was too long and complex to include in my daily news stories. And it was also a chance to put my opinion into the writing, which felt good to get off my chest. Of course, like any writing project, there were days when it was like pulling teeth. And the editing process was a slog at times. But for the most part, the writing was a lot of fun.

Did any books or events influence your approach to the subject?

I’d say the most immediate influence was Paul Wells’s The Longer I’m Prime Minister. In terms of writing tone, Wells’s voice was definitely something I aspired to — informative, but also entertaining with a wry sense of humour.

Who would you like to read this book?

I think it’s worthwhile reading for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are trying to figure out why their government is so dysfunctional. And then, a few years from now, if things keep going the way they’re going here, and Newfoundland and Labrador is facing something like the Greek debt crisis, I think Turmoil, as Usual will be a pretty good primer on the political situation. (Google “Muskrat Falls” and “Newfoundland Commission of Government 1934–1949” if you want a head start.)

Why is your book important for Canadians and our political culture?
Two reasons, I think. Firstly, Turmoil, as Usual is about provincial politics. I often feel like Canadians spend a lot of time paying attention to Ottawa, and they don’t spend nearly enough time scrutinizing their provincial governments. When it comes to hospitals, schools, roads, liquor prices, and a whole host of other things that affect you every day, what happens in the provincial legislature matters a lot more than what happens in the House of Commons. This is doubly true in a small province like Newfoundland and Labrador that doesn’t have enough people to matter much in the overall national picture, politically or economically. So I hope my book can do a tiny bit to make people think more about their provincial government.
Secondly, I think it’s easy to forget that politicians are human beings with emotions, motivations, and flaws. I think too often we obsess about the strategy and gamesmanship of politics, and we forget about the human element. In Newfoundland and Labrador politics particularly, things don’t happen because of some grand game of political chess. Usually the explanation is just that somebody got angry, or somebody was too proud to admit they were wrong, or somebody just plain screwed up. In Turmoil, as Usual I tried very hard to present N.L. politicians as human beings, and I think it’s important for Canadians to remember that when they’re reading about politics.

James McLeod is the political reporter for The Telegram. He moved to the East Coast from Toronto in 2008 while pursuing a degree in journalism from Ryerson University and began covering national and local politics full-time in 2011. A past winner of the Atlantic Journalism Awards’ Jim MacNeill New Journalist Award, McLeod is a regular voice on CBC Radio. He lives in St. John’s.

Additional information about author and book, including the jury’s citation, can be found here.