Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada's Failing Democracy Hardcover – Apr 15 2014
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“This important book draws on the personal experiences of former Members of Parliament to illustrate the growing central control of party leadership—in all major parties—and how this has distorted the democratic process. Offering useful suggestions to address the resulting alienation of voters from the political process, Tragedy in the Commons is mandatory reading for all MPs and Canadians.”
—Michael Wilson, former Minister of Finance and Canadian Ambassador to the United States
“Canadians’ participation in and respect for democracy are fundamental to maintaining a society of which we can be proud. Through the reflections of Members of Parliament, who have devoted themselves to public life, Loat and MacMillan give us insight into how far we have to travel, and how urgent is the cause.”
— Amanda Lang, co-host of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange and author of The Power of Why
“In every tragedy there is hope. Members of Parliament go to Ottawa hoping and promising to make a difference; but as these riveting revelations show, high priorities get lost too easily in the widening chasm between constituents, party leaders and good conscience. Is it any wonder Canadians feel disengaged from their hard-won democracy? 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
“Tragedy in the Commons is a thoughtful analysis of what is broken in our democracy and a must-read for anyone concerned about Canada’s politics. It’s also a cogent and urgent reminder that the struggle to make our Parliament and our politics work falls not only to politicians, but to us all.”
—Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans
About the Author
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 recognized as a young leader by Maclean’s and the Public Policy Forum. She was also selected as one of the top 100 women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network, and has received both the Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals for her service to Canada. Loat is also an associate fellow and instructor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonLoat.
Michael MacMillan is the CEO of the Canadian-based company Blue Ant Media. He was previously the executive chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications. MacMillan co-founded the original Atlantis Films in 1978, which won an Oscar in 1984 for its short film Boys and Girls. A recipient of the Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals for service to Canada, he is also a co-owner of Closson Chase, a vineyard and winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan co-founded the think tank Samara in 2009. Visit www.samaracanada.com to learn more. Follow Samara on Twitter @SamaraCDA.
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Top Customer Reviews
Through dozens of intense interviews the authors collected an image of the life for Canadian politicians in our national body. What Loat and MacMillan discover is in no way particularly flattering to our grand national institution and in fact hints a deep rot or dysfunction in Canadian democracy.
The title of the book is a direct allusion to the economic concept of the tragedy of the commons. To briefly summarize the idea, with a common good there is a benefit for all to preserve the resource for the future, but none of the stakeholders have the incentive to not exploit the resource to full advantage contrasted to his/her peers. As a result the resource is exploited to its complete ruination because the best interest of the individual is so completely at odds with the long-term interest of the collective.
This reference is emphasized by Loat and MacMillan. As they detail the litany of problems in the House of Commons, arguably building towards crisis, they refer to the simple fact that any one politician is powerless to influence the current political culture despite the fact that it serves their own interests. The forces of status quo keep Members of Parliament from obeying their own consciences and upholding their own rights.
Each chapter of the book addresses an area of political life that any MP must navigate: winning nominations, elections, conduct within the House of Commons, committee work, relations with their party and leadership, and even the basic understanding of what an MP is.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The most interesting thing for me was how so many public servants have large holes in their elective service that were so negative. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jordan R. Hill
This is a great report on a qualitative research project. Hence is is heads above other analyses concerning government in Canada. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Elaine
A fascinating look at what it takes to be an MP, and how the process works from the people who have just come out of the ordeal. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Steven Waslander
Great read. Good for those who are interested in the current state of Canadian politics and what MP's have to go through while in office.Published 16 months ago by Jay Skopyk
A good book with many important points about politics as perceived by politicians from all political parties. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Johnson Jones
Borrowed it from the local library and read it.Glad I didn't buy it as the book was certainly not what it was said to be. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Johnny Boy
Anyone interested in Canadian politics, and many who are not, should read this book. It tells us much about what is wrong with how we are governed, though not everything. Read morePublished on June 13 2014 by David Huntley
I echo the views of reviewer Steven. Thanks to this book, I finally understand, better than ever, what goes on at Parliament Hill, and how that compares to what is supposed to be... Read morePublished on June 11 2014 by Bruce Rhodes
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