Two general elections have been held since the 2015 Reform Act was passed by Canada’s Parliament. In this article the authors assess its success in rebalancing the relationship between individual MPs and their parties, discuss why many MPs remain reluctant to openly challenge their leaders’ authority, and conclude that institutional or legislative changes alone will likely not change the culture that has permitted power to be concentrated in a leader’s office.
Ten years after commencing the initial round of exit interviews with departing Members of Parliament, the Samara Centre for Democracy has recently published three new reports based on a second round of interviews. These publications, and the best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons, have received tremendous attention in the media and amongst parliamentary observers who have been interested in the candid observations of former parliamentarians. In this article, the authors outline the organization’s evolving interview process and overall methodological approach and discuss tentative plans to make the individual long form interviews available to future researchers.
Ten years ago, as a brand new nonpartisan charity, the Samara Centre for Democracy launched a pan-Canadian project founded on the belief that a chasm was opening between political leaders and citizens, but that leaders themselves might hold some clues for how to begin to close it. So began the Member of Parliament exit interviews project.
While acknowledging the deep ambivalence on the part of the Indigenous political class about the desirability of greater representation in Parliament, based on a long history of settler colonialism and formal political exclusion, the author posits that it would be a mistake to leave parliamentary reform out of the broader exploration of reconciliation that is currently underway. Without prejudicing outcomes by advocating for particular reforms, the author outlines some historic models from Canada and aboard and some of the challenges that participants will face when restarting this conversation.
Indigenous peoples play an ever more central role in political life in Canada. Episodes like the Idle No More movement, or ongoing contention over resource extraction attract a new kind of attention and intellectual investment on the part of non-Indigenous peoples. The challenge of building a more consensual political community in the aftermath of settler colonialism is an entirely mainstream preoccupation, more now than ever before. But curiously, the question of reforming political institutions has rather receded from view. In particular, parliamentary reform and “decolonization” have existed in separate intellectual universes.