COVID-19: An Update from our Executive Director

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Happening Now Friday, April 03, 2020 View Count = 1112

COVID-19: An Update from our Executive Director

The other day I woke up to a radio story about Terri Chu, who is organizing her local community to support vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis. All around the country, whether by helping with grocery shopping, bringing necessary medications, or simply checking on neighbours, Canadians are trying to be useful. (Terri is a familiar face, as one of the Samara Centre’s first Everyday Political Citizen nominees.)

As our staff continue to work from home, I wanted to update you on how we are trying to be useful to you in this time.

We are working in three areas:

1. Monitoring Canada’s democracy in a state of emergency

Samara Centre researchers are experts in parliamentary process and we are keeping an eye on how elected leaders are providing scrutiny of government amidst this crisis. Click here to read our detailed analysis of how Parliament has performed in response to COVID-19, or click here for a summary.


Over the coming weeks, our researchers will be identifying acceptable and unacceptable violations of our democracy in response to COVID-19. While times of emergency call for a certain degree of speed and efficiency, democratic practices and norms must still be maintained.

2. Understanding democratic representation in a time of physical distancing

As a close follower of the Samara Centre, you know that our main focus is on MPs and other elected leaders. We are undertaking research into how our representatives do their jobs during a pandemic and we'll be flagging areas of concern, such as what happens to case files when offices are shuttered, and how MPs engage with constituents when community events are not allowed.

Every spring, we survey MPs on their job—and ask about necessary improvements to make it a job that is meaningful and impactful.

This spring is no different. Research Associate Adelina Petit-Vouriot is preparing our 2020 survey and we will be asking MPs about their experiences as representatives during COVID-19.

  • How are they engaging with constituents? Are they making use of technology?
  • What do they think about Parliament closing?
  • How are they communicating with each other and their leadership?

3. Supporting civic education and knowledge translation remotely

In addition to surveying public leaders, we are focusing our energy on helping citizens navigate the uncertainty by sharing useful tools and information.


Taking a cue from world leaders like Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern, and Erna Solberg, who have directly addressed children about the pandemic, our Research Director sat down in front of his webcam to field questions from my son Luke (a 5th grader) about how governments are handling the situation—and whether we’ll still have enough potato chips for everyone.

Watch their adorable and instructive exchange on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, and share it with the parents and educators in your life.

As COVID-19 continues to test the strength of governments around the world, and citizens are asked to step up and do their part to help #FlattenTheCurve, the Samara Centre is more committed than ever to safeguarding the health of Canada’s democracy.

Please share this post with friends who you think would like to know more about how Canada's democracy is faring in this time of crisis.

Take care of yourself and each other,

Kendall Anderson

Kendall Anderson
Executive Director (and mom of two bored kids)

P.S. As a non-partisan charity, the Samara Centre relies on the generous support of our donors. If you think it's important that we continue to monitor and safeguard Canada’s democracy during these difficult times, please consider donating today

P.P.S. In case you missed it, the podcast recorded at our Real House Lives book launch is now available! Hear what former MPs Peggy Nash, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, and the Honourable Lisa Raitt had to say about their time in elected office.

To read Kendall's previous message, click here.

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