MP Exit Interviews - The Samara Centre for Democracy

MP Exit

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Volume I

From 2008 to 2011, the Samara Centre for Democracy conducted the first ever systematic series of exit interviews with former Members of Parliament. In total, 80 interviews took place in the homes and communities of former Members of Parliament who sat in the 38th, 39th and 40th Parliament.  The discussions formed the basis of a series of research reports and the best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons. This research has been cited by academics over 60 times and is informing the work of current MPs—the book has been referenced in Parliamentary debates and it helped inform the creation of the Reform Act.

Exit interviews are a tool used by the corporate world to capture experience and learn what worked well and what could work better. Samara believes this practice should be applied to transform Canadian politics.

Volume II

With the exit cohort from the 41st Parliament accumulating over 400 years of collective parliamentary experience, we revisited the exit interview process in 2017 with new questions, new themes, and new results. Like last time, we travelled across the country and spoke with over 50 former MPs from across the political spectrum. This research is being captured in a series of three reports that make a case for MPs who are independent, empowered, thoughtful, and engaged in three environments: Parliament, the constituency, and the party.

The first report in the series, Flip the Script, proposes ways to empower MPs to directly influence law and policy, and carefully scrutinize the Government on Parliament Hill. The second report, Beyond the Barbecue, offers a new vision for what the job of the MP should be in the constituency. The final report, The Real House Lives, focuses on political parties and how to strengthen the role of MPs in an age of extreme partisanship.

We want to continue to build this national archive—to create an historic record for future scholars, parliamentarians, and citizens—and compare how practices and norms change over time, exploring new topics and challenges along the way.

How you can help

We want this project to spark a larger public conversation: sign up to Samara’s newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates and opportunities to get involved.

Samara’s work relies on the generous support of our donors and funders. Please consider joining us in making the MP Exit Interview project into a legacy for future leaders and citizens by making a donation today. You can donate online.

If you have questions about the project, please contact us at [email protected].


"Participating in Samara’s Exit Interviews was a really positive experience; it was also a chance to continue to have an impact, in a different but useful way."

— Paddy Torsney, Former MP

Real House Lives

Real House Lives front cover

New for 2020!

Bringing together our second volume of MP exit interview reports, Real House Lives uses the stories and experiences of former parliamentarians to understand what’s going wrong with our national politics, and to put forward a vision of democratic representation that is independent, thoughtful, engaged, and empowered. It follows MPs through their lives and work, exploring how this vision of political leadership can be realized through a stronger Parliament, better local democratic engagement, and healthier political parties.

The highly-anticipated sequel to Tragedy in the Commons, this book is for anyone who has ever imagined offering their career and life to public service. It’s a how-to guide, an inspirational account, and perhaps a warning.

Click here to learn more.

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.

Click here to purchase a copy.

Bring Tragedy in the Commons to your book club! Download the book club guide.





Route 338 is a website that profiles and showcases all of Canada's 338 federal ridings through photos, fast facts about each riding and videos from CPAC's extensive archives.


MP Exit Interviews in the news

"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

"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.



More coverage of Tragedy in the Commons

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