A special Canada Day message from Samara's Executive Director

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Happening Now Saturday, June 30, 2018 View Count = 276

A special Canada Day message from Samara's Executive Director

This Canada Day weekend, I want to talk to you about an enormous challenge facing our country, and to ask you to meet it with us.

Commitment to democratic values is eroding all over the world, even in countries once thought of as democratic strongholds. You likely see the signs in your day-to-day life—whether it’s the ease with which conversations break down over a difference of opinion, an attack on expertise, or deepening cynicism that the political system is altogether broken.

When “The Samara Project” first became an educational charity, few thought that a “democratic deficit” could affect Canada. Almost 10 years on, things have changed. Wherever we go, people tell us that democracy cannot be taken for granted and that Canadians need to dedicate themselves to reinvigorating it.

Samara has changed too: We’ve contributed to a deeper understanding of democracy’s problems and pushed for important recommendations, built partnerships with like-minded organizations and leaders, and stood up as a non-partisan voice in an increasingly partisan and polarized space.

Today, as the Samara Centre for Democracy, we are still called to our mission to strengthen Canadian democracy.  Leaders, educators, civil society, the government, and Canadian citizens turn to Samara for action-oriented research and tools. By donating today, you can help us make Canada’s democracy more accessible, responsive, and inclusive. 

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Here’s what we aspire to do in the coming years:

1) Investigate the vital role of political parties. Building on Samara’s powerful illumination of the work of MPs, we want to turn our attention to political parties in a way that no other nonpartisan research group has before.

Although political parties have a major influence over who successfully enters public life, party operations are completely opaque. That’s why political parties are the focus of Samara’s forthcoming research. We will dig for data, ask hard questions, and provoke an evidence-driven public discussion to push parties towards greater transparency and accountability.

2) Equip leaders with new tools to make consultation meaningful. Elected representatives still largely rely on age-old techniques like door knocking to understand their constituents’ concerns. But innovative engagement strategies exist—ones that use technology and in-person techniques. By building resources, training, and tools (like Samara’s guide to setting up a youth council, published earlier this year), we can democratize these techniques so that all elected representatives can better represent their local communities.

3) Encourage inclusive, positive, and transparent politics. It’s well established that diverse teams are good for decision-making and problem-solving. Yet politics is too often an exclusive, invite-only, and subsequently homogenous, realm.

We want to ensure that Canada’s diverse population is represented among political leaders so that Canadians can see themselves in politics. That’s why we continue to celebrate Everyday Political Citizens who are organizers, campaigners, educators and mobilizers in their local communities. Nominated from across the country, Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen project illuminates what the Commons and Senate should look like one day.

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Canadians should also know the challenges and rewards of public service. And with over 125 MP exit interviews conducted to date, Samara has built the largest oral history project on Canadian public life.

Our aspiration is to find new ways to take Canadians behind the headlines and share compelling stories about what it means to be in public service from different perspectives—and get this material in the hands of Everyday Political Citizens and beyond.

On behalf of the team at the Samara Centre for Democracy, we are honoured by the responsibility and trust citizens have given us, and we won’t fail to answer the call to strengthen Canada’s democracy. But we need your help.

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We hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Samara Centre for Democracy to mark this Canada Day. Join the Samara team on its vital mission to make our democracy more accessible, responsive, and inclusive.

Sincerely,

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Jane Hilderman
Executive Director
The Samara Centre for Democracy



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