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Political Science Democracy

Tragedy in the Commons

Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada's Failing Democracy

by (author) Alison Loat & Michael MacMillan

Random House of Canada
Initial publish date
Mar 2015
Democracy, Civics & Citizenship, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price

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The founders of influential think tank Samara ask former members of Parliament what has gone wrong with our democracy, and how it can be fixed.
     Talk to any Canadian about politics and you'll hear little but frustration and bewilderment. Canadians don't see their politicians working for them; all they see is grandstanding in the House of Commons and MPs pursuing their own agendas. These same MPs make critical choices about how we live together and how our country will function in the future. But even with so much at stake, citizens are increasingly apathetic about traditional politics. How did one of the world's most functional democracies go so wrong?
     In Tragedy in the Commons, Samara founders Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan provide an unprecedented look behind the curtain of Canadian politics. Based on their exit interviews with 80 retired MPs, they share surprising observations about the practice of politics in Canada: the accidental arrival of many in political life; the conflicting demands of the MPs' jobs; and the role of the political party in an MP's life.
     In this timely and controversial book, Loat and MacMillan reveal the challenges facing Canadian democracy today. Using the MPs' own voices, confused and contradictory as they sometimes are, Loat and MacMillan outline concrete steps to improve our politics--from the inside out.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

ALISON LOAT is a regular commentator on Canadian politics, a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a former consultant with McKinsey & Company. For her work as a co-founder of Canada25 she was chosen as one of Canada's Top 25 under 30 by Maclean's and received the Public Policy Forum Young Leaders Award. She is also an associate fellow and instructor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto.

MICHAEL MacMILLAN is the CEO of Blue Ant Media. He was previously the Executive Chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis. MacMillan co-founded the original Atlantis Films in 1978, which won an Oscar in 1984 for its short film Boys and Girls and an Emmy in 1992 for Lost in the Barrens. ALISON LOAT and MICHAEL MacMILLAN co-founded the think tank Samara in 2009.

Editorial Reviews

   • "Offer[s] eye-opening insight into a system in deep malaise, with power concentrated in party leaders' offices and individual MPs." The Globe and Mail 

   • "Loat and MacMillan hope that pulling back the curtain will re-engage Canadians enough to keep our House of Commons from becoming a 'House of Cards.'" Isabel Bassett, former Member of Provincial Parliament