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Alison Loat

Co-founder and executive director, Samara

Alison is the co-founder and executive director of Samara, a charitable organization whose programs work to strengthen the Canadian democracy, and an instructor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto.

Previously, Alison worked at McKinsey & Company and was the founder and the first executive director of Canada25, a non-partisan organization that involved Canadians in the development of public policy. For her public service work, Alison was chosen as one of Canada’s Top 25 under 30 by Macleans magazine and received the Public Policy Forum’s Youth Leaders Award and the Queen’s Jubilee Gold Medal for her service to Canada. She lives in Toronto.

Canada's Shortlist for the Everyday Political Citizen

Whether we like it or not, most major decisions about our communities are still made at the political level. Yet there is little celebration of, and often outright disdain for, those who engage with the political process to try and have a say in those decisions.
01/23/2014 05:16 EST

Forget the Scandals and Check Out These Everyday Political Citizens

Imagine if we celebrated Canada's democratic volunteers in the same way we celebrate our entrepreneurs, sports stars and community leaders? Samara is trying to do just that, by finding and highlighting the work of these people in the Everyday Political Citizen project. After all, politics will only change if citizens show the way.
11/13/2013 05:46 EST

Why a Government Shutdown Would Never Happen in Canada

The latest U.S. government shutdown dominated headlines this week, prompting questions as to whether a similar situation could happen here. I sat down with my colleague at Samara, Jane Hilderman, to talk about the government shutdown and why -- for better or for worse -- it can't happen in Canada. What's at the heart of a government shutdown like the sort we're seeing in the U.S.?
10/04/2013 12:20 EDT
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Top 10 Tips for Reaching Your MP This Summer

The summer, when MPs have little to no interruptions from Ottawa, is an ideal time to reach them with any burning issues or concerns. We reached out to the inside experts on political engagement -- political staff. We asked for their advice on getting the ears of MPs. Here are some of their tips.
05/27/2013 02:06 EDT

This Party Leader Speaks Most in the House

Two new infographics pair Members of Parliament with a notable book by a Canadian author and illustrate -- in terms everyone can understand -- how much MPs spoke in the 129 sitting days in the House of Commons in 2012.
05/14/2013 12:15 EDT

Where Is Sheryl Sandberg's Advice for Women in Politics?

Like many other 30-something women, I've started reading the latest treaty for the working gal, Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. I'm now among the ranks of those who admire Sandberg's ability to leave the office on time and her gutsiness in contributing to a much-needed discussion on how North American's can better balance work and life so both men and women are better equipped to take on leadership roles if they want to. One area where this discussion is sorely needed is politics, an arena that Sandberg -- an advisor to former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers -- largely ignores in her book.
04/24/2013 12:45 EDT

The Best Moment in Canadian Democracy Is...

We are pleased to provide this opportunity for us to reflect on the best moments in Canadian democracy. This year, you nominated five worthy candidates -- the Quebec Student Movement, Female Premiers, Checks and Balances, the Speaker's protection of minority voices, and Idle No More -- and the votes are in.
01/22/2013 05:21 EST

Best Moment in Canadian Democracy: 2012

Just before the New Year, Samara asked for nominations for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2012. Despite the cynicism that we all feel from time to time, these five serve as important reminders that there are democratic mechanisms at our disposal, and that despite Canada's imperfections we are lucky to live here.
01/14/2013 02:22 EST

Technology and Political Campaigns: Not Just Robocalls

As Canadians respond to allegations about the misuse of robocalls in the 2011 federal campaign, it's critical that such technologies are not confused with tactics. The public debate must consider the potential these technologies offer political leaders to more effectively reach the citizens they serve.
11/21/2012 07:49 EST

How Would MPs Improve Parliament? Five Ideas

Parliament resumes this week. MPs have returned from their 308 ridings rested, connected with their constituents and ready for another round of political gamesmanship. We here at Samara thought it was a good time to revisit some of the ideas for Parliamentary reform put forward by those who've survived politics on the front lines: the Members of Parliament themselves.
09/17/2012 12:09 EDT

Public to Politicians: Is it Just You, or Is it Me?

On Friday, the Manning Centre released their annual poll on Canadians' attitudes towards various policy issues and government's performance more generally. If I were a politician, these stats would make me want to enter some form of image makeover and/or rehabilitation program, pronto.
03/11/2012 09:25 EDT

MPs Spending Too Much Time Unravelling Red Tape

Whose job is it to help vulnerable Canadians solve their problems? The Canadian public service or your member of Parliament? The correct answer is our public service, however, many MPs commit a large amount of time and staff resources to getting constituents in the back door of bureaucracy.
10/04/2011 03:38 EDT

Our (Surprisingly?) Diverse Parliament

Our politicians tend to be older, whiter, more male, better educated and more 'white collar' than the average Canadian. So for those who would prefer a Parliament that better looks and feels more like Canada, the election of a few 20-something MPs is a good thing.
06/11/2011 09:52 EDT