Canada’s Democracy at 150: A Panel Discussion and Report Release




Join us for Samara Canada's Democracy 360 report release, featuring Jane Hilderman and Dave Meslin in conversation with Amara Possian, Annahid Dashtgard, Elamin Abdelmahmoud and Nate Erskine-Smith.


In the year of our country's 150th birthday, Canadians are feeling a new urgency to talk about the health of our democracy, and a vision for the next 150 years: How is Canada's democracy faring? How can we renew our democracy and guard against its decline?

Two years ago, Samara Canada released the first Democracy 360, a made-in-Canada report card focusing on the relationship between citizens and political leadership. The Democracy 360 measures three areas essential to a healthy democracy: communication, participation and political leadership.

Much has changed since then. In the midst of a "democratic recession" spreading across the globe, Canada's political landscape may look relatively rosy but are we doing as well as we could be doing—as well as a country as fortunate as ours ought to be doing?

Join us on March 28th at the Isabel Bader Theatre as Samara Canada unveils the second edition of our Democracy 360. Jane Hilderman, Samara’s Executive Director, will open the evening by sharing key research insights. Dave Meslin, author of a forthcoming book on democracy, will then lead a discussion exploring:

  • how we can strengthen Canada’s democracy, and revitalize our political culture and institutions;
  • what elements of our "democratic infrastructure" we should maintain, improve or abandon; and
  • who our democracy is serving, who it is leaving behind, and how we can more fully include all Canadians.

Doors open at 5:30 PM and the event begins promptly at 6:00 PM. See below for more details.


*** Admission is free but space is limited. RSVP below. ***


Our Moderator:

DAVE MESLIN is the Creative Director of Unlock Democracy Canada, co-editor of the 2010 book “Local Motion: The art of civic engagement”, co-founder of Spacing Magazine and the official LEGO Visualiser for CBC News. Dancing between the worlds of mainstream politics and grassroots activism, Meslin has found positive ways to bring them both together and turn energy into action. A serial entrepreneur, Meslin’s resume of non-profit start-ups include the Toronto Public Space Committee, the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto, City Idol, the Downtown De-Fence Project, Dazzling Notice Awards and DandyHorse Magazine. Meslin is currently crowd-sourcing 100 Remedies for a Broken Democracy for a book scheduled to be published by Penguin Canada in 2018.


Our Speakers:

AMARA POSSIAN is a campaigner and consultant who helps build purpose-driven, engaged, and resilient teams that can take bold action. She has worked with progressive organizations for a decade, most recently as Leadnow's Campaigns Manager. While at Leadnow, she led the Vote Together campaign, which integrated digital tools and a deep field organizing effort to mobilize thousands for change during the 2015 election. She chairs the board of the Centre for Story-based Strategy and has a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation where she explored the links between social justice, social innovation, and reconciliation.  

ANNAHID DASHTGARD (MEd) is co-founder of Anima Leadership, an award-winning consulting company that believes when people feel like they matter and belong the extraordinary becomes possible. She has managed national political campaigns, advised on policy and led many organizational and community change initiatives. Annahid brings an in-depth knowledge of both psychological and political forces involved in creating widespread social change and believes both are needed. She is a published author, public speaker and media spokesperson on topics related to democracy, citizen engagement, belonging and diversity. She is comfortable reporting that her most challenging and fulfilling leadership experience to date has been her two toddlers teaching her about motherhood!

ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD is the social media editor at BuzzFeed Canada and Editor, News Curation at BuzzFeed News. He is a panelist and columnist for CBC's The National, and he teaches at Ryerson University's journalism program in Toronto. Before BuzzFeed News, he worked for TVO's The Agenda With Steve Paikin and CBC News. You can tweet him at @elamin88. 

JANE HILDERMAN is the Executive Director of Samara Canada. Jane works to bring Samara’s mission—to reconnect citizens to politics—to life. She frequently discusses Samara’s work in the media and with Canadians across the country. Her previous roles at Samara include Research Director, where she shaped Samara’s groundbreaking research that explores Canadians’ participation in democracy, how Members of Parliament do their jobs, and citizen perceptions of politics. She holds degrees from the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto (MPP) and Queen’s University (BAH).

NATHANIEL (NATE) ERSKINE-SMITH is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Beaches-East York. Currently, he is the Vice-Chair of the Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics Committee, and an active member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Before politics, Nate practised law at a commercial litigation firm in downtown Toronto, and provided volunteer legal work in public interest matters. He obtained his BA (Politics) and JD (Law) from Queen's University, and his BCL (Master of Laws), with distinction, from the University of Oxford. Nate lives in his riding with his wife Amy and son Mackinlay, born in 2016.


The event is co-hosted by Samara Canada and the University of Toronto School of Public Policy and Governance.




We would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support:




March 28, 2017 at 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Isabel Bader Theatre
93 Charles St W
Toronto, ON M5S 1K9
Google map and directions
José Ramón Martí ·

Will you come?