The Samara Centre has been studying the experience of federal parliamentarians for 15 years.
Before our MP Exit Interview project began, Members of Parliament had limited opportunities to share reflections on their role and provide insight about the practice of politics in Canada. To ensure valuable data is being captured, we created the first systematic series of exit interviews with former MPs in Canada. To date, we’ve conducted exit interviews with 166 former MPs across six parliaments.
Our questions cover a lot of ground from the interviewee’s path to politics to how they navigated power dynamics within their political parties. These conversations are aimed at demystifying life in the House of Commons and identifying how political leadership can evolve to face the current challenges to our democratic culture.
A consistent theme in this study is the candour from the interviewees and their motivation to seed the ground for a better political future — even if it’s one that does not involve them directly.
Analysis from the MP Exit Interview project is presented in numerous reports and the books Tragedy in the Commons and Real House Lives. This material has received extensive media coverage, is frequently cited by academics, and has served as a key resource for aspiring and new MPs.
We are currently interviewing the third cohort of the MP Exit Interview project. If you are a former MP who left the House of Commons between October 2015 and September 2021 and would like to participate in this study, please contact us.
Cohort 3: October 2015 to September 2021 (42nd and 43rd Parliaments)
The third installment of the MP Exit Interview Project captures Parliamentarians who left the House of Commons between October 2015 and September 2021. If you are eligible to be interviewed and would like to participate in the study please get in touch.
Humans of the House is a podcast based on a selection of these interviews. This iteration of the study is supported by the Government of Canada.
Cohort 2: June 2011 to August 2015 (41st Parliament)
We revisited the exit interview process in 2017 with new questions, new themes, and new results for the 41st Parliament. We spoke with over 50 former MPs from across the political spectrum. This research was captured in a series of reports that examine an MP’s three core environments: Parliament, the constituency, and the party. Additionally, our findings were published in the book Real House Lives, which examines the power dynamics of political parties and outlines how to strengthen the role of MPs in an age of extreme partisanship.
Cohort 1: October 2004 to March 2011 (38th, 39th, and 40th Parliaments)
From 2008 to 2011, we conducted 80 interviews in the homes and communities of former MPs. Our findings formed the basis of a series of research reports and the best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons. This research has been cited extensively by academics and is informing the work of current MPs — the book has been referenced in Parliamentary debates and helped inform the creation of the Reform Act.