MPs study barriers keeping women from politics
The Problems with Parliament
TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin, June 27, 2018Television
Following the release of Samara Canada's latest round of exit interviews with former federal Canadian MPs, The Agenda talks to a number of one-time backbench law makers and Samara's Executive Director Jane Hilderman to diagnose what ails Canadian Parliament and how to cure it.
More than half of MPs surveyed say heckling a problem, two-thirds admit doing it anyway
CTV News Power Play, October 25, 2017Television
Samara Canada's Jane Hilderman says around 36 per cent of MPs surveyed on heckling in the House sees it as a form of verbal harassment.
Report Examines Youth Participation in the Political Process
CPAC Primetime Politics, September 9, 2015Television
Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara Canada, discusses their new report on youth involvement in the political process.
Interested but Not Voting
CTV News, August 8, 2018Television
Samara Canada Executive Director Jane Hilderman discusses a study that says young people are engaged in the election but less likely to vote.
CBC The CurrentRadio/Podcast
When the Trudeau Liberals swept to power last fall, they vowed the 2015 election would be the last time Canadians would vote using first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. Trudeau's government has set a deadline of December 1st to introduce electoral reform legislation.
TVO The Agenda on PoliticsRadio/Podcast
With Ontarians heading to the polls, The Agenda on Politics focuses on one group of voters who could make a big difference in this election: millennials. This cohort is notorious for not voting, but they could be the key to victory for one lucky party this time around. Jane Hilderman, executive director of The Samara Centre for Democracy looks at millennial attitudes to voting and how that could play out in this election.
CBC News The 180Radio/Podcast
On this episode, we revisit highlights from our Democracy Hacks series, with panellists Kevin Deveaux and Jane Hilderman.
Many Members of Parliament have spoken out about heckling. Yet concerns about a lack of decorum in the House persist. Samara Canada is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group promoting greater public participation and education about Canada’s democratic system. The organisation recently surveyed MPs to get their perspective on the issue.
As Parliament studies barriers for women in politics, MP launches online 'campaign school'
Edmonton Journal, July 3, 2018Print
The executive director of Samara Centre for Democracy, Jane Hilderman, shared unpublished findings from an exit survey of MPs who left office in 2015.
“Broadly speaking, many of these women reported that they felt their credibility and their authority as a candidate and as an MP were often more open to doubt than those of their male counterparts,” said Hilderman. Young women felt this dynamic most acutely, she said.
Question period is supposed to be about holding the government to account. So how did it become political theatre?
Toronto Star, June 20, 2018Print
The United Kingdom’s version of question period, the model for our own, has many and very strict rules to promote serious exchange on policies and ideas. But in Canada, while rules do exist, they have never been nearly as robust.
This deficit was made worse when cameras were introduced in the chamber in 1977, said Jane Hilderman, executive director at Samara Canada, a democracy advocacy non-profit. “It became more about reaching a nightly newscast audience so it favoured pithy, short theatrical performances.
“You want to be seen with a united team behind you that stands and claps to show the force of the idea or opinion.”
Tougher workplace harassment rules would help protect political staffers: Hajdu
National Post, January 12, 2018Print
Jane Hilderman, the executive director of Samara Canada, which has surveyed MPs as part of its work on civic engagement, said it would be challenging to determine the scope of the problem among staff.
“Staff have such a critical role in our democratic system, but are so behind-the-scenes that we end up taking them as part of the furniture and not actually asking them about their direct experience that they have,” she said, adding that the lack of a central body for staff would make it hard to do so.
The debate about debates: MPs study new models for election debates
iPolitics, December 8, 2017Print
Meanwhile, non-partisan think-tank Samara Canada proposed a solution landing somewhere in the middle: a “debates arbitrator” — perhaps modelled after Elections Canada’s broadcasting arbitrator, who oversees the allocation of broadcasting time to registered political parties during elections.
“This mid-range approach might be most appropriate at this time, given that we are embarking on a somewhat new area of regulation,” suggested Jane Hilderman, Samara’s executive director.
Why heckling during Question Period can get ugly, especially for women MPs
Maclean's, October 25, 2017Print
While only 16 percent of MPs surveyed think that heckling is beneficial to Parliament, veteran MPs are less likely to see it as a problem, compared to rookie MPs. Samara executive director Jane Hilderman attributes support for heckling to a respect for tradition, and the belief that heckling contributes to keeping MPs accountable.
But that’s not the type of heckling that’s most often heard, she adds. Shouting down and drowning out opposition MPs is more common, and for Hilderman, that behaviour is worrisome because it’s “anti-democratic” — it aims to silence voices that were elected to the House to represent constituents. This can make people feel like they aren’t welcome, or discourage members to speak in the House. “That is a threat to the quality and inclusiveness of our institutions,” she says.
Survey finds most MPs think heckling in the House is a problem — and most MPs are guilty of it
Toronto Star, October 25, 2017Print
Civility in question period has reached a point where no one is listening, a new survey of MPs suggests.
“We’ve lost something in terms of what debate should look like, what good accountability can mean in question period,” said Jane Hilderman, executive director at Samara Canada, a non-profit think tank devoted to citizen engagement…
Samara makes a handful of recommendations for increasing civility, including fully capturing heckling on camera. Cameras and microphones don’t always pick up heckling over the din in the chamber, which means viewers at home hear muffled noise but can’t see who caused the kerfuffle.
Removing that anonymity could discourage MPs from making offensive or disruptive remarks, the report said.
Hilderman also wants to hear fewer talking points by taking away politicians’ prepared notes and clearing the way for genuine debate.
“We’ve come to a point now where . . . scripted talking points have become de rigueur,” Hilderman said. “One inane answer gets a bunch of inane heckles back. There is no listening.”
Canadians’ satisfaction with MPs and political parties on the upswing: new report
National Post, March 28, 2017Print
While some “correction” might be happening in the last few months, which have been hard on the Trudeau Liberals, executive director Jane Hilderman says she believes the broader trend still holds.
It could offer Canada an opportunity to escape from the “tipping point” of political dissatisfaction that has resulted in “democratic recession” in the United States and United Kingdom, she told the National Post — although “there are certainly groups of Canadians who do feel disaffected,” she acknowledged….
Part of the upward trend could be a continued “after-glow” from the 2015 election, Hilderman said. “We were picking up on some of that openness that was still lingering among Canadians towards giving a new set of political leaders … a chance to prove themselves,” she said.
New survey suggests Canadians may avoid a ‘democratic recession” a la the U.S. and U.K.
RCI, March 28, 2017Print
Samara Canada’s executive director, Jane Hilderman, says that while some “correction” may have occurred in the past several months, she believes the upward trend will continue.
Hilderman says an “after-glow” from the Liberals’ 2015 general election victory may be in part responsible for the trend.
“We are picking up on some of the openness that was still lingering among Canadians towards giving a new set of political leaders…a chance to prove themselves,” she says.
MPs study barriers keeping women from politics, but is another study the solution?
CBC News, July 2, 2018Online
Jane Hilderman conducted exit interviews with departing MPs, 23 of whom were women, as part of her work as executive director of the Samara Centre for Democracy.
"The women often had a different experience than their male counterparts," she said. "They felt they had to work twice as hard to be recognized, work twice as hard to be heard."
What about the kind of deeply entrenched, everyday sexism that can keep a woman from entering politics?
"A big question this committee in their study is tackling is: Should this be left to the parties? Or is there a role for government to intervene and try to standardize the process?" said Hilderman, who testified before the committee on June 12.
Is it possible for the Canadian government to shut down?
Yahoo News, January 22, 2018Online
“The definition of what can be covered [as essential spending] is quite broad,” said Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara Canada, a non-partisan advocacy group that pushes for increased civic engagement. “It’s very hard to imagine a situation where there is truly a shut down.”
There’s a time limit of 60 days for special warrants, which places pressure on the country’s political parties to find a solution or hold new elections. And while the governor-general could theoretically reject a request for a special warrant, it’s highly unlikely given the strict conditions under which the warrant can be issued.
“There would be significant harm to Canadians on a day-to-day level if some of those programs were jeopardized,” Hilderman said.
The way in which the Canadian and American political systems handle failing to pass budgets highlights the differences between the two countries. “Our parliamentary system favours continuity, that’s why the executive is embedded in the legislature,” Hilderman said.
Young voters an untapped resource for political parties, report says
CBC News, September 9, 2015Online
"It's very important that politics be connected to their lives and that they see it already where they live, work and study," said Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara. Hilderman said youth who had been contacted by a political party, be it through door-knocking, a phone call or social media, were 15 per cent more likely to cast a ballot in the 2011 federal election, than those who weren't. "If you see it and are experiencing an invitation then it begins to sink in that politics is something that is important," said Hilderman...
Tackling the Myth of Politically Apathetic Young Canadians
The Huffington Post, October 15, 2015Online
"One of these days it's going to happen and it will change the country. If young people show up to vote, it will change everything," Rick Mercer, a satirical Canadian political observer, told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway this past week.
Parliament preps for e-petitions to the House
iPolitics, November 7, 2015Online
Jane Hilderman, the Executive Director of Samara – a nonpartisan non-profit aimed at increasing civic participation – says it’s another way to make sure that “interest and engagement is facilitated beyond the ballot box,” referencing the higher turnout in the last election. Hilderman said it also shows that “parliaments can evolve and enhance their relevance,” and suggests everyone remain open-minded to making the process better over time. “That’s a new way of thinking about parliament,” she said, adding it’s often thought of as only based on tradition...
Is it time to make MPs pay for boorish behaviour in question period? Fines could improve decorum
National Post, January 20, 2016Online
“I realize that we’ve been around this block before,” Samara executive director Jane Hilderman said of the question period debate. She said it’s not something that will easily change and requires leaders, their parties and whips to commit to reform. And because existing rules — the Speaker’s ability to name and eventually boot offending MPs from the house or dock their party a question in the rotation — haven’t changed much, that’s why they started discussing something more extreme. Docking pay has proven an effective deterrent of bad behaviour in other fields, Hilderman said, so the authors thought it might be worth suggesting. It would be a global first, she admits, among Westminster parliaments. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, especially as heckling becomes much more than adding a quip or two in to “liven debate” — a common defence of unparliamentary behaviour...
Jim Hillyer’s death underscores health challenges other MPs face
Toronto Star Newspapers, March 23, 2016Online
Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara, a non-profit organization which conducted extensive exit interviews with 80 MPs for a book, Tragedy in the Commons, said in an interview many spoke of how stressful the transition to Ottawa is. “A lot of the advice for an incoming cohort of MPs was how to survive and thrive as an MP because it’s recognized as a very challenging job, especially if you’re leaving your family behind in your riding.” “It’s not a job for the faint of heart,” said Hilderman, adding that those who arrive in Ottawa are “very resilient people who are prepared to work very hard.”...
Hilderman & Campbell: A chance to change the culture in Ottawa
National Post, August 11, 2015Online
The federal election is only in its first week and we already know that come Oct. 19, our Parliament is going to look a lot different — not because a new party is necessarily going to be in power, but because the new Parliament will feature one of the largest classes of new MPs in Canadian history.
CitizenSpark No. 15: What will be the talk of your Thanksgiving table before the election?
National Post, October 9, 2015Online
In fact, according to Samara Canada, a charity that focuses on civic engagement, the social pressure created through simply discussing political issues is one of the top six reasons why people end up actually making the effort to go to a polling station and vote. “We take cues from those around us,” says Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara. “Even talking about politics is a signal that this is something of value, and this is something worth engaging in.”...
Canadian activists honoured with awards for civic engagement
CTV News, December 4, 2015Online
"There's a lot of attention given to our elected officials and our institutions of government," said Jane Hilderman, Samara Canada's executive director. "They get a lot of media coverage and their public service is often celebrated, but those that work behind the scenes and are enhancing democracy in their own way often go unthanked for their efforts, and yet where would be without them?"...
Building a better Commons committee system
iPolitics, December 14, 2015Online
The Trudeau government’s inaugural throne speech mentioned several aspects of the democratic reform file. The media’s attention has mostly been focused on ditching first-past-the-post elections and creating a new Senate appointment process. But they may be overlooking another urgently needed change: reforming and strengthening committees.
Representing Canadians : Is the 41st Parliament Still a Vertical Mosaic?
Published by Canadian Democracy from the Ground Up: Perceptions and Performance
2014 Political power in Canada has been characterized as a “gendered vertical mosaic” in which members of majority groups hold more power than those of minority groups, and men prevail over women within both majority and minority groups (Abu-Laban 2002). In the House of ...
Parliamentary Reform: Where We’ve Been and Where We Might Be Going: Roundtable
Published by Canadian Parliamentary Review
2016 In May 2015, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group held a conference in Ottawa to discuss parliamentary reform initiatives of the past, present and future. In this roundtable, some of the presenters from that conference discuss reforms from recent ...
Jane Hilderman joined ClimateWest in May 2020 as Executive Director. Previously, Hilderman served for four years as the Executive Director of the Samara Centre for Democracy, a national nonpartisan think tank and charity focused on strengthening Canadian democracy and political participation. During her leadership tenure, the Samara Centre launched such flagship initiatives as the Democracy 360 as well as executed the second round of Samara’s MP Exit Interview Project. She holds degrees from the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto (MPP) and Queen’s University (BAH). Hilderman is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which seeks “to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world.”