The Unbroken Machine


The Hill Times: Best Books of 2017

What if it is not our political system that is broken, but our understanding of it?

Everybody thinks that it’s the system that’s broken in politics; but what if it’s not the system that’s broken but rather our understanding of it? What if everyone’s proposals to make the system “more democratic” only wind up making things worse, and weaken our systems of accountability so much as to make them meaningless? What if it’s our own ignorance that is killing democracy in this country?

Dale Smith looks at the critical gaps in civic literacy that have become endemic within Canadian political culture, wading through buzzwords and meaningless proposals to suggest real solutions. Designed for the lay reader, The Unbroken Machine seeks to explore our lack of civic literacy and show how our system of democracy should work — if only we were to engage with it the way it was meant to be.


Smith is an entertaining writer, unquestionably knowledgeable — and concerned.

Globe and Mail

A lively primer on the Canadian parliamentary system

Literary Review of Canada

As an introduction to how Canadian government works (and doesn’t), there is no better book than Smith’s.

The Interim

About the Author

Dale Smith

Posted by Dundurn Guest on June 14, 2016

Dale Smith

Dale Smith is a freelance journalist in the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, writing about politics full-time since the 2008 federal election. He has written for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, the Canadian Press,, and the Hill Times. Dale lives in Ottawa.