Welcome to Parliament

Welcome to Parliament

Read the full report above or 
click here to download the PDF.

Welcome to the 42nd Parliament

October 19th, 2015 was historic: voter turnout was the highest in 20 years, and 200 rookie Members of Parliament (MPs) are heading to the House of Commons! 

While the final voter turnout numbers are not in yet, Elections Canada projects voter turnout will hit 68%. Clearly Canadians share your and our concern for our democracy. From the Everyday Political Citizen contest to Vote PopUp, we like to think Samara has had some small hand in making this happen. 

While this number is far from 100%, it’s an amazing feat for voter turnout to jump seven percentage points and we should all feel proud. We here at Samara await the breakdown to see how well various age groups turned out and where the growth came from. We hope the increase was universal and crossed all age groups (especially young people), ethnic communities and regions.

For those candidates who ran—who gave their time, money and energy; who put their names on the ballot—we thank you. You showed Canadians that politics is worthy of good people’s time. 

For those who weren’t successful this time, we hope you’ll remain engaged in the years between elections—one way to remain engaged is to connect with Samara. If you know someone who ran, we hope you’ll tell them about Samara, and please ask them to email us. We have so much to learn from their experiences and we would like to speak to them. 

What’s next?

Two hundred newly elected MPs are heading to Ottawa—almost 60% of the House of Commons will be new to the job.

Maclean’s prepared a fun interactive tool for looking at the shape of this new Parliament. The percentages of women, visible minorities and indigenous people are up modestly from the last Parliament. Check it out here: http://www.macleans.ca/shape-of-the-house/.

After the 2011 federal election, Samara interviewed 80 MPs—some who’d lost their seats and some who’d retired. Participants ranged from backbenchers who’d only served one term to cabinet ministers and even one prime minister. Their recollections of the life were a vital documentation of their personal experiences in office and an historical record of this specific time. Out of these interviews, Samara’s co-founders wrote a book, Tragedy in the Commons, which contains helpful and tangible advice for incoming MPs.

This report, Welcome to Parliament, is the second in the series of four reports and documents what it's like to arrive in Ottawa after being elected. As one MP recounted: 

“All of a sudden I said, ‘I’m going to Ottawa.’ I had never planned to do that. It was just one of those things that happened.”


Read the full report above or 
click here to download the PDF.

Samara's Exit Interviews are now a bestselling book! 

Loat_9780307361295_j#2B969CIn 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.

Read more.

   Samara's Blog

  • March 24, 2018

    March for Our Lives: The Political Awakening of Youth

    Today, thousands of students are expected to join March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. to end gun violence. The students of Stoneman Douglas are demonstrating they are ready and capable to work the levers of modern democracy. Youth in Canada should have the same opportunity to be heard by politicians.
  • February 28, 2018

    #SamaraChat XIV Recap: The Culture of Debate in the House of Commons

    Following our latest research on the state of incivility in the House of Commons, last week Samara took to Twitter to ask Canadians what they thought about the culture of parliamentary debate and decorum in our fourteenth #SamaraChat.
  • February 01, 2018

    Is Learning to Code Good For Democracy?

    Guest blogger Robert Furtado explores how improving Canadians’ digital literacy, especially in coding and digital media, could help democratize knowledge and skills that are currently reserved to a small elite.

News & Reviews of ​Tragedy in the Commons

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 macleans.ca

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. 

More news & reviews