From Heckles to Hurrahs: Samara's 2016

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Happening Now Thursday, December 22, 2016 View Count = 3403

From Heckles to Hurrahs: Samara's 2016

What an unforgettable year we've had!

As Canada’s most trusted, nonpartisan champion of increased civic engagement and a more positive public life, Samara contributed to a better politics in 2016 with illuminating research, innovative programming, and engaging events.

Scroll to the bottom to see what we have in store for 2017.



Samara kicked off the year by revealing how heckling in the House affects MPs’ ability to work in “Cheering or Jeering? “[Heckling] makes me aware that people are often trying to silence me,” confessed one female MP. Drawing positive feedback from MPs, including the Speaker’s Office, the report was also mentioned in the National Post and CBC’s At Issue Panel.

Recognizing that rookie MPs could use some help, we delivered Welcome to Parliament packages—packed with advice from former MPs—to all 197 newly elected members.

Responding to a growing demand for information, we wrote an objective and nonpartisan primer on five possible electoral systems for Canada. Downloaded over 2,000 times and viewed online several thousand times more, this readable guide cuts through the noise on electoral reform and helps Canadians understand the various options. Following its release, Samara was invited to appear before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

On the anniversary of the 2015 federal election, we examined how different generations of Canadians discussed politics and were—or weren’t—contacted during the election in “Can You Hear Me Now?"The report reframes the conversation about youth political engagement to better reflect reality," said one student, "which is the first step to improving the health of Canadian democracy.” Its findings were featured on the pages of The Toronto Star (twice) and iPolitics.



Continuing to shine a light on political leadership, we produced our first-ever animated educational video: “A Day in the Life of a Member of Parliament.” Accompanied by an Educator’s Guide, the video follows Priya, a recently elected MP, as she goes about her day in Ottawa, balancing her roles as legislator, representative and service provider. Over 5,000 views online and counting!

Through our Democracy Talks program, we made a real impact training staff and facilitating programming. At service agency North York Community House,we trained over 80 staff members. “I went from a viewer to a doer,” noted a participant in Scarborough, capturing the essence of the program perfectly.

With the support of Elections Ontario, we organized Vote PopUps to educate and engage marginalized voters and demystify the voting process in the lead-up to two provincial by-elections—our first series of pop-up events at the provincial level!



We brought together 30 young leaders from across Canada to talk about how political representatives can better engage young people, the results of which became a colourful poster for elected officials to hang on their walls as a reminder of the value of engaging youth. So far, their message has reached at least 110 MPs and another 50 political representatives or candidates!

The 2016 Everyday Political Citizen contest introduced 240 outstanding nominees, hailing from every province and territory. The contest has now received more than 1,000 nominations in just four years—that’s 1,000 people who are making a difference and inspiring Canadians to see that how we live together matters.

Finally, in the presence of all three 2016 EPC winners and several shortlisted nominees, we capped off the year with Civicus, our Everyday Political Citizen awards ceremony and holiday party. "I feel very proud,” said winner and Inuit educator Ruth Kaviok. “I feel like I'm giving voice to my people, [speaking] to those who don't always listen to us. That's a very special honour."


In the new year, Samara will be:

  • Travelling the country and interviewing former MPs for our next round of MP Exit Interviews. Email Christina to learn more!
  • In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, we'll be releasing the second edition of our Democracy 360, looking at how our democracy has changed since the last federal election, and holding discussions on how we want our democracy to work for Canadians.
  • Bringing the Vote PopUp initiative to British Columbia for the 2017 provincial election. Email John to get involved!
  • Organizing the fifth annual Everyday Political Citizen contest, celebrating unsung heroes from across the country and inspiring many more.
  • Convening young advocates, mobilizers, and politicos at EPC: IRL Forums in Toronto and Edmonton. Email Bailey for details!
  • Producing an educational video on how to become an active citizen.
  • Presenting a discussion with two leading American experts to unravel the U.S. election and ponder its prospects for democracy.
  • Hosting Wonk Prom, the official afterparty of the Public Policy Forum Dinner. Save the date!

Wishing you a happy new year!


José, Christina, Jenn, John, Kendall, Jane, and Bailey

P.S. A special thanks to all 135 donors who generously gave a total of $97,129 in 2016! There's still time to be a part of this group and help us reach our year-end goal of $100,000 by donating today.

We are also grateful for financial support from:

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