In Tragedy in the Commons, Alison Loat and Michael
MacMillan, founders of the non-partisan think tank Samara, draw on
an astonishing eighty exit interviews with former Members of
Parliament from across the political spectrum to unearth surprising
observations about the practice of politics in Canada.
Though Canada is at the top of international rankings of
democracies, Canadians themselves increasingly don't see politics
as a way to solve society's problems. Small wonder. In the news,
they see grandstanding in the House of Commons and MPs pursuing
agendas that don't always make sense to the people who elected
But elected officials make critical choices about how this wildly
diverse country functions today and how it will thrive in the
future. They direct billions of dollars in public funding and craft
the laws that have allowed Canada to lead the way internationally.
Even with so much at stake, citizens-voters-are turning
away. How did one of the world's most functional democracies go so
In Tragedy in the Commons, MPs describe arriving at their
political careers almost by accident; few say they aspired to be in
politics before it "happened" to them. In addition, almost without
fail, each MP describes the tremendous influence of their political
party: from the manipulation of the nomination process to enforced
voting in the House and in committees, the unseen hand of the party
dominates every aspect of the MP's existence.
Loat and MacMillan ask: Just what do we want Members of Parliament
to be doing? To whom are they accountable? And should parties be
trusted with the enormous power they wield with such little
oversight or citizen involvement?
With unprecedented access to the perspective and experience of
Canada's public leaders, Tragedy in the Commons concludes
by offering solutions for improving the way politics works in
Canada, and how all Canadians can reinvigorate a democracy that has
lost its way, its purpose and the support of the public it is meant