Common Ground

Power, polarization, and the future of democracy

Is democracy in a global crisis? From Canada to America to Britain, recent events have stoked fears around the rise of populism, polarization, and more. Media reports have debated whether democracy is dead or corrupt, whether it’s in need of saving or complete reimagining. Meanwhile, a recent survey of Canadians showed that 70 percent believe elected officials don’t care what ordinary people think. And, in 2019, the Samara Centre for Democracy gave Canada’s democracy a B-minus grade—noting that nearly half of us believe our democracy is growing weaker.

As Canada prepares for its next federal election, The Walrus answers an urgent question: How healthy is our democracy? This special series investigates what’s working, what’s under threat, and what’s broken. With new stories published weekly, Common Ground cuts through our anxieties to examine what democracy really means in Canada today—and whether it’s truly coming to an end.

A man speaks on a stage at the Quebec Legislature with a crucifix over his head on the dark blue wall behind him.

Our National Silence on Bill 21

BY SUPRIYA DWIVEDI

This summer Quebec passed a law curtailing religious minorities—and nobody on the election trail wants to talk about it


A man and a woman sit on the edge of a large pool with their legs in the water; behind them is an elaborate villa against a backdrop of trees and a blue sky.

I’m Part of the 0.1 Percent and I Want a Wealth Tax

BY MEGHAN BELL

In the face of rising inequality, we need to elect politicians who will tax the rich


Overhead shot of a wooded landscape with yellow and orange foliage, surrounded by water and with a network of rivers running throughout.

What Would It Look Like to Take the First Nations Water Crisis Seriously?

BY HILARY BEAUMONT

Government after government has spent millions on water-treatment plants. But thousands of households still can’t drink from the tap


We Need Indigenous Wisdom to Survive the Apocalypse

BY JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT

The Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace offers a chance to avert ecological, cultural, and political crisis


crystal ball with a crowd inside of it

The Prophet of Populism

BY JOHN LORINC

Political scientist Yascha Mounk studies the signs of rising populism. What can his work tell us about Canada’s future?


raybould standing on podium in front of microphones

What Jody Wilson-Raybould Really Thinks

BY BRIAN J. BARTH

The newly independent candidate on Indigenous governance, SNC-Lavalin, and whether she wants the prime minister’s job


Canada: Good at Bureaucracy, Bad at Transparency

BY JUSTIN LING

I made an access to information request. What I got back was almost entirely redacted. Why is the system so broken?


political supporters waving green party placards

The “Ethnic Vote” Is a Myth

BY SUPRIYA DWIVEDI

There’s no data to suggest visible minorities and immigrants vote the same partisan way


political supporters waving green party placards

Political Polls Are Flawed. Can AI Fix Them?

BY MAX FAWCETT

Polls are a key source of information. But the process is outdated and the results are often inaccurate


Party Loyalty Can Be Bad for Democracy

BY ELIZABETH GOODYEAR-GRANT

Why politicians should vote however they want


political supporters waving green party placards

The Green Party Is Poised for a Breakthrough

BY DON LEPAN

But they’ll have to beat the NDP to do it


Jane Philpott

Can Jane Philpott Change Politics?

BY JASON MCBRIDE

After her ousting from the Liberal Party, the unlikely renegade decided to run as an independent candidate in the 2019 federal election. Here’s Why she hopes it will reshape our democratic landscape


Is Canada Broken?

BY SARMISHTA SUBRAMANIAN

The country seems more polarized than ever. Here’s what that means for the next election


Voting With Our Feelings

BY ALEXANDER TESAR

Democratic elections presume voters are capable of making rational, informed decisions. We’re not


Don’t Worry About The Federal Deficit

BY KEVIN MILLIGAN

Politicians often argue that government debt will cause hardship for future generations. They’re wrong


Reconciliation: The False Promise of Trudeau’s Sunny Ways

BY MARTIN LUKACS

Under the Liberals, statements of moral feeling have been elevated to a governing strategy


A Field Guide to Online Political Conversations

BY THE WALRUS AND THE SAMARA CENTRE FOR DEMOCRACY

Political discussion on social media feels more charged than ever. The Walrus and the Samara Centre for Democracy asked Canadians how we can learn to disagree and keep things civil



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The Walrus Staff