COVID-19: A Special Message from our Executive Director

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Happening Now Tuesday, March 17, 2020 View Count = 469

COVID-19: A Special Message from our Executive Director

The spread of COVID-19 has challenged societies around the world, and it seems that the threat to public health, and the associated economic downturn, could get worse before it gets better. Every day, we’re learning of new cases, including among public leaders.

It might sound odd to say, but my colleagues and I are not surprised to hear that so many of our public leaders have been exposed to COVID-19. For ten years, the Samara Centre has been interviewing Members of Parliament and, through that process, we have learned how much they appreciate meeting people face-to-face—constituents, allies, or each other (except in Question Period!). I’ve been impressed by the leadership they’ve shown to protect our fellow Canadians by self-isolating. 

Following their lead, the Samara Centre team has begun working from home, taking care of our families and ourselves. We will also be shifting our focus away from in-person events. As you may have heard, we won’t be able to bring you Democracy XChange as originally scheduled, and we are postponing our remaining book-related events until the fall. We hope you’ll be able to reconnect with us then.

But our work continues.

We’ll be examining the effects of misinformation and disinformation on democracy—seeing the bad information circulating about COVID-19 makes this work all the more vital. (For credible information and advice, visit the federal government’s COVID-19 page.) We’ll also be revitalizing our research on online political conversations, underscoring the importance of substance and civility, not only from public leaders but also from citizens.

I invite you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, where we will provide educational and informative work on how democracy works in Canada.

This is a moment for us all to realize that Canada’s democratic system is the responsibility of more than the Prime Minister. Of course, good leadership is vital to our country’s success—it can bring people together or tear them apart; it can inspire through words and deeds. But the entire ecosystem of our free and open society depends upon a hardworking public service, elected leaders, the justice system, and, most importantly, active citizens working to do their part, whether that’s by staying home, practicing social distancing, or supporting those unable to work at this time.

Today, we’d like to share video from a recent event, featuring a candid discussion with former MPs Peggy Nash, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, and the Honourable Lisa Raitt. Interviewed by our Research Director, Mike Morden, they each spoke about the tremendous stress and responsibility of holding public office, but they also expressed how much they loved the job. If you have time in the coming days, I hope you’ll watch the conversation on YouTube.

In responding to the global pandemic, Canadians won’t get everything right—mistakes will be made—but if we each do our part, and forgive each other for errors, our country will come through this crisis more unified than before.

We encourage you to continue following our work and letting us know what you think, and we look forward to the day we can meet again. Until then, be safe and mindful of others.

Sincerely,

Kendall Anderson

Kendall Anderson and the Samara Centre Team




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