Tragedy in the Commons

The #1 bestseller on the Globe and Mail Canadian list!

In Tragedy in the Commons, Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, Samara's founders, draw on an astonishing eighty exit interviews with former Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to unearth surprising observations about the practice of politics in Canada.

Loat and MacMillan ask: Just what do we want Members of Parliament to be doing? To whom are they accountable? And should parties be trusted with the enormous power they wield with such little oversight or citizen involvement?

With unprecedented access to the perspective and experience of Canada's public leaders, Tragedy in the Commons concludes by offering solutions for improving the way politics works in Canada, and how all Canadians can reinvigorate a democracy that has lost its way, its purpose and the support of the public it is meant to serve.

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Our events have been such a success thanks to the help of so many. We would especially like to thank:
  • Bennett Jones LLP
  • McKinsey & Co. 
  • Bob Ramsay 
  • Ben McNally Books
  • Jesse Helmer & friends of Samara in London, ON
  • Chip Pitfield
  • Rotman School of Management
  • NATIONAL Public Relations
  • Leah Costello
  • UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions
  • Hot Docs & The Inspirit Foundation
  • Stephen Frank & CLHIA
  • The Manning Centre
  • The Globe and Mail
  • The Ottawa Writers' Festival
  • Equal Voice
  • Andrew Balfour
  • Perfect Books
  • Reclaim our Democratic Canada
  • McMaster
  • Bryan Prince Booksellers
  • Barclay's
  • Different Drummer Books
  • WXN
  • Closson Chase Winery
  • Derek Alton
  • Barb Minett
  • Justin Philippi

News & Reviews

"A must-read this summer" by Randy Simms in The Telegram

"Candidate, educate thyself" by Dale Smith in the Ottawa Citizen

"Why parties matter" by Dale Smith on

"The case for abolishing political parties" by Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star

An excerpt of Tragedy in the Commons in Policy Options

Kevin Newman said "I learned a lot from this book and I've been covering politics my whole life." See Alison on CTV's Kevin Newman Live (interview starts at 29:20).

"The tragedy of the House of Commons: A new book explores the lives and frustrations of our MPs" by Aaron Wherry on

Alison and Michael on CPAC’s Primetime Politics. To watch, search for April 28th (interview starts at 40:00).

Tragedy in the Commons: through the eyes of MPs. Alison discusses the book on The West Block.

“Why have members of Parliament allowed their power to be siphoned away as they have?” Get a sneak peek at the book from this excerpt in the Ottawa Citizen.

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

"When MPs hate politics, it's time for change" by Liz Renzetti in the Globe and Mail. 

Hear some great stories from Alison and Michael 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. 

"5 Reasons You Should Read Tragedy in the Commons" by Terry Fallis on Retreat by Random House. 


More coverage of Tragedy in the Commons

About the authors

Alison Loat is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Samara. A regular commentator on Canadian politics, she is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a former consultant with McKinsey & Company. For her work as a co-founder of Canada25, she was recognized as a young leader by Maclean's and the Public Policy Forum. She was also selected as one of the top 100 women in Canada by the Women's Executive Network, and has received both the Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals for her service to Canada.

Michael MacMillan is a co-founder and the Chair of Samara. 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.