Elected representatives are critical in returning our representative democracy to health. But in Canada, Members of Parliament have been drifting away for decades from the essential work citizens require of them—of legislation, representation, and scrutiny.
It’s getting worse.
In 2017, Samara interviewed 54 former MPs who sat in the 41st Parliament (2011-2015). They tell a story of overbearing party leaders and their staff, and an even further loss of agency for individual MPs.
Elected representatives are a part of the central and essential machinery of our democracy and they are meant to represent, include and engage their constituents. We cannot overlook their part in responding to the democratic malaise.
This report is the first in a series of three that makes a case for MPs who are independent, empowered, thoughtful, and engaged in three environments: Parliament, the constituency, and the party.
In early 2017, Samara contacted former Members of Parliament who retired or lost their seat after the 41st Parliament (2011 to 2015). As with the first MP Exit Interviews project, we chose to speak to former, rather than current, MPs because we felt they would be less constrained by the demands of office and, having stepped away, would have had time to reflect on their years in public life.
We interviewed 54 former MPs, ensuring that they came from all the major national political parties and most regions of the country. The distribution of interviewed MPs broadly reflects the makeup of the outgoing cohort of MPs in 2015. The Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians (CAFP) was our partner in this project and provided the initial letter of introduction and invitation to the former MPs on our behalf.
For the complete methodology, see page 36 of the report.