Who We Are

A Civil Place to Disagree

Since its inaugural conference in 1932, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs has played a pre-eminent role in Canada’s civic discourse as a national forum on public affairs. A civil place to disagree, the Institute excels at attracting Canadians from all walks of life to participate in a vigorous and passionate exchange of ideas on national and international matters of significance. We are committed to creating a commons for meaningful engagement that is the product of the collective contributions of all who experience the Institute’s programs. The core of our mission is to increase awareness, understanding, and knowledge of domestic and international issues amongst people in Canada through open and inclusive discussion, without advocacy or partisanship. We do so during our annual Summer Conference and throughout the year at our programs in communities across Canada.

Distinguished participants over the years have included Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Henry Kissinger, John Kenneth Galbraith, Marshall McLuhan, Naheed Nenshi, Margaret MacMillan, Jim Flaherty, Han Suyin, Stephen Leacock, Eugene Forsey, Raymond Aron, René Lévesque, Edward Burtynsky, Vincent Massey, Arthur Schlesinger, John Diefenbaker, Malcolm Muggeridge, C. Wright Mills, Donald Creighton, Reinhold Niebuhr, Michael Ignatieff, Michael Marmot, Edmund Muskie, Jane Jacobs, Tariq Ramadan, Carol Off,  Jay Naidoo, June Callwood,  John Ralston Saul, Carol Shields, Karen Armstrong, Bernard Ostry, Peter Ustinov, John MacLachlan Gray, Edward Asner, John Polanyi, Max Beloff, Hugh McLennan, Tony Burman, Nathalie Des Rosiers, David Dodge, Hana Gartner, James Orbinski,  Charles Taylor, Peter Munk, Mona Eltahawy, Ovide Mercredi, Doug  Saunders, Andrew Coyne, Paul Martin Jr., Paul Martin Sr., Michael Wilson, Hugh Segal, and Moses Znaimer — to name but a few and in no particular order.

Led by a 33-person national Board of Directors, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, charitable, volunteer-run organization. Membership is open to individuals, students, and families and we encourage active participation in our volunteer committees and our year-round events. 

2016 Summer Conference

The Canada Project

Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON

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Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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Couchiching Programs Over the Years


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