Real House Lives

Real House Lives

Real House Lives

“We’re not just in a sort of post-truth politics, but we’re in a post-democratic politics.”

– Former Member of Parliament

Democracy’s future has become uncertain. Politicians are viewed with deep cynicism. Political parties have lost touch with mass society. Citizens’ expectations of what their democracy should do have outstripped what their institutions can provide. All of this is feeding a wave of polarization, populism, and anxiety around the world, with Canadians much more likely to say their democracy is becoming weaker rather than stronger.

Written by researchers at the Samara Centre for Democracy, 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 parties. This may be an ambitious view, but Canadian democracy requires ambition, especially in a public climate of increasing partisanship, cynicism, and distrust.

The highly-anticipated sequel to the Samara Centre's #1 bestseller 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.

Bringing together our second volume of MP exit interview reports, Real House Lives features a brand new foreword, introduction, and conclusion.

Order your copy today!

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Watch the Book Launch

To launch Real House Lives, we invited former MPs from three of Canada's largest political parties to shed light on their insights and experiences as elected representatives in front of a live audience at The Royal Cinema in Toronto.


Moderated by the Samara Centre's Michael Morden, Research Director and editor of Real House Lives, our speakers included:

  • Peggy Nash, former MP for Parkdale-High Park and former Official Opposition Critic for the NDP in the portfolios of Finance and Industry;
  • Robert-Falcon Ouellette, former MP for Winnipeg Centre and former Chair of the Indigenous Liberal Caucus; and
  • The Honourable Lisa Raitt, former MP for Milton and Halton and former senior Cabinet Minister and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party.
In a candid and lively discussion, they each spoke about the tremendous stress and responsibility of holding public office, but also expressed how much they loved the job. Watch the entire conversation above.