Alison Loat
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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.

Entries by Alison Loat

Canada's Shortlist for the Everyday Political Citizen

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 10:46 AM

Recently, in preparation for a talk, I re-read a number of the MP Exit Interviews that I conducted four years ago along with colleagues at Samara, the think tank where I work. One story stuck out. A former MP, who worked in a kitchen before rising up through...

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Forget the Scandals and Check Out These Everyday Political Citizens

(0) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 9:34 AM

What a time in Canadian politics: with three senators expelled, Toronto Mayor Ford's crack cocaine admission, and the election of Montreal's fourth mayor in 12 months, there lots to give politics a bad name.

It's not as though Canadians had very positive opinions about politics before this week. In...

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Why a Government Shutdown Would Never Happen in Canada

(21) Comments | Posted October 4, 2013 | 12:20 PM

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...

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It's Time to Celebrate Everyday Political Citizens

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 5:43 PM

You could almost hear the Canadian electorate breathe a collective sigh of relief this year when legislatures across the country went on their summer recesses. With scandals dotting the land and dominating the headlines, it hasn't been the best year in Canadian politics.

Given political goings-on it's no wonder people...

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Top 10 Tips for Reaching Your MP This Summer

(1) Comments | Posted May 26, 2013 | 12:22 PM

Just a few more weeks until the House of Commons breaks for summer, and MPs disperse to their corner of the country to serve hot dogs at summer BBQs and swap suits for sun hats.

The summer, when MPs have little to no interruptions from Ottawa, is an ideal...

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This Party Leader Speaks Most in the House

(2) Comments | Posted May 14, 2013 | 11:59 AM

Almost 8 million words were spoken by MPs in the House of Commons last year, but some MPs had more to say than others.

Recent debates about the role of backbench MPs, including the Speaker's recent ruling on a question of privilege, have raised questions about who speaks in the...

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

(5) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 12:45 PM

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...

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The Best Moment in Canadian Democracy Is...

(1) Comments | Posted January 22, 2013 | 4:21 PM

When the editors of Huffington Post asked us to include this contest in my regular blog here, we were happy to. Samara started the "Best Moment in Canadian Democracy" contest in 2011, when the Arab Spring had just begun. Reflecting on these uprisings in the Middle East, an...

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Best Moment in Canadian Democracy: 2012

(2) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 11:24 AM

Just before the New Year, Samara asked for nominations for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2012. Below are the five finalists, and we hope you'll take a minute to vote for your favourite.

Despite the cynicism that we all feel from time to time, these five...

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Technology and Political Campaigns: Not Just Robocalls

(1) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 11:23 PM

Elections are a critical time at which citizens connect to their politics. From the train station platforms in the early 20th century, today's campaigns reach directly into Canadians' homes through the telephone, TV and the internet.

As Canadians respond to allegations about the misuse of robocalls in the 2011 federal...

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Are the Media "Horse-Racing" in This Election?

(1) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 11:27 AM

Election campaigns have always been fodder for journalists and media watchers to lament the state of political coverage in today's media. Usually, criticisms are levied on journalists' exuberance for the "horse-race" -- who's winning, who's losing -- at the expense of discussion on the issues citizens care about.

Recent...

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How Would MPs Improve Parliament? Five Ideas

(6) Comments | Posted September 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM

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...

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

(32) Comments | Posted March 11, 2012 | 12:19 AM

On Friday, the Manning Centre, an organization that supports people who "advance our vision of a free and democratic Canada guided by conservative principles," released their annual poll on Canadians' attitudes towards various policy issues and government's performance more generally.

The most sobering bits, for me anyway,...

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MPs Spending Too Much Time Unravelling Red Tape

(1) Comments | Posted October 4, 2011 | 3:37 PM

A family divided by geography, a dying man without access to his insurance, an elderly person unable to get his old-age pension.

These are Canadians at their most vulnerable -- financially, emotionally and mentally at risk. So whose job is it to help solve these problems? The Canadian public service......

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Politicians' Careers Raise Questions For Our Democracy

(9) Comments | Posted June 21, 2011 | 8:10 AM

What do real estate agents, doctors, lawyers, engineers, musicians, farmers, businessmen, professors and activists have in common?

Most of us probably think, "Not much," but they are just a handful of the ways in which the 308 Canadians sitting in our House of Commons earned their living before becoming Members...

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Our (Surprisingly?) Diverse Parliament

(13) Comments | Posted June 11, 2011 | 9:52 AM

One of the defining images of Canada's new Parliament to date is a Globe and Mail cartoon of Jack Layton in the House of Commons surrounded by a group of kids, barely tall enough to see over their desks. One holds an NDP balloon, another squirms while Layton...

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