April 2016

In this Issue:

Couch News

President's Message

2016 Summer Conference

2016 Gala Recap

President’s Remarks


Couch Community News



Our Alumni/Members in the News

Books of Note

Calling All Readers!

The President's Message
Adam Redish

Wow! What a stunning evening!

This year’s Couchiching Gala was everything a Couch event should be: sparkling and passionate conversation on important issues; thoughtful speakers; engaged attendees. It really doesn’t get more Couch than that!

One of the most compelling parts for me was the diversity of perspectives brought to the different tables. Each had a dynamic and thoughtful host with a great topic to discuss and a mix of viewpoints that engendered a broad and challenging conversation.

The evening was also highlighted by the presentation of the prestigious Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership to Dr. Anne Golden, one of Canada’s most accomplished and dedicated public servants. Anne joins an illustrious list of former of recipients that includes Phil Fontaine, David Dodge, William G. (Bill) Davis, and Elizabeth May – to name just a few.

Anne provided thoughtful remarks about why she is so optimistic about the future of cities and the “new urbanism” and expressed her honour and appreciation at receiving the award. I was certainly honoured to present it on behalf of the Institute. (see below)

Many thanks and congratulations to Vass Bednar and her team of amazing and dedicated volunteers who created such a dynamic (and flawless) evening.

Thanks, too, to our many sponsors and our attendees, and the Board members who attended or sponsored a student or young professional. It is through your support and generosity that the Institute is able to keep our events accessible - and maintain our scholarship and young professional programs in particular.

As I write this, we are in the midst of National Volunteer Week and so I want to acknowledge the thoughtful dedication, hard work, and contribution of the many, many volunteers who do so much for the Institute. It is only through your efforts as Board members, committee members, Summer Conference and event organizers, and more that the Institute has been able, over the past 85 years, to make such an important contribution to shaping the national dialogue on important public policy issues in Canada.

But we can’t rest on our laurels!

We are in the process of landing the last details of this year’s Summer Conference: The Canada Project: Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World. You will find an update from co-chairs Armine Yalnizyan and Michael Paramathasan below. As we move toward 2017 and the sesquicentennial of our country, I am sure you, too, are looking forward to a fun and thoughtful discussion at the Lake on what it means to be Canadian – and what it will mean to be Canadian in the next 150 years!


The 2016 Summer Conference - The Canada Project: Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World
August 5th to 7th, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, Ont.
Summer Conference Co-chairs Armine Yalnizyan and Michael Paramathasan

The scintillating conversations at this year's Couchiching Gala were more than just a fabulous dinner date for 100 or so remarkable personalities. They made one thing abundantly clear: If you haven't registered for this year's Summer Conference by the lake, don’t waste another minute! Several Gala table hosts will be there to trigger more stimulating conversations. Based on the preview, we know it's going to be a great time!

Our thought-provoking Summer Conference agenda is sure to get us all thinking out loud, in excellent company, about what it means to be Canadian in 2016. We'll discuss cutting-edge polling research about how Canadians of different racial backgrounds see themselves, and are seen; balance how younger and older Canadians view identity and autonomy in a borderless world; and debate how our democratic processes could reshape the Canada Project in the years to come.

One of our speakers, Chief Isadore Day, was elected Ontario Regional Chief in June 2015, is a member of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Executive, and is Chair of the Political Confederacy for the Chiefs of Ontario. He will be a critical voice on the question of nationhood as he explores the crisis surrounding Attawapiskat First Nation, which he recently declared at a “tipping point for the First Nations health care crisis in Canada” on the 140th anniversary of the Indian Act. Chief Day is a passionate advocate for a combined and coordinated effort from all levels of governments and civil society in their approaches to First Nations issues and we welcome his participation at the Summer Conference and his views on identity and nationhood as it relates to Canada’s First Nations, in one of the defining themes for the Canada Project.

Since last fall, the Chiefs of Ontario had presented five key areas that must be immediately addressed by the federal government:

  • ending the First Nation health crisis, which can only be addressed by fixing the water crisis, ensuring access to health services, and fixing health benefits for First Nations.
  • eliminating abject poverty through investments in housing, healthy affordable food, infrastructure, education, and training.
  • immediately implementing mental health and addiction services to address the youth suicide crisis, prescription drug abuse, and mental wellness.
  • recognizing First Nation authority over land and resources, as recognized within our Treaties.
  • ensuring access to new technologies, such as broadband Internet and green energy.

Over the last 20 years, First Nations have lost approximately $25 billion due to a two-per cent funding cap imposed by a previous Liberal government. Sufficient health funding means revisiting the failed 2005 Kelowna Accord, which had committed $1.3 billion dollars over five years to reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, diabetes, and obesity by 50 percent within 10 years. From the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to the recent heart-rending spate of suicide attempts on First Nations reserves, the time is long overdue to chart a new course on identity, citizenship, and nationhood as we move into the future with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

We are delighted to be able to facilitate another year of stirring and consequential debate, and we look forward to your participation and thoughts about the changing nature of the Canada Project, at the meeting-place of minds on the banks of beautiful lake Couchiching.

Click here to read about speakers Nahlah Ayed, Desmond Cole, Chief Isadore Day, Keith Neumann, John W. McArthur, and Doug Saunders, profiled in the February 2016 issue of Couchiching Connects.

Follow Nahlah on Twitter: Nahlah Ayed (@NahlahAyed) | Twitter

Follow Desmond on Twitter: Desmond Cole (@DesmondCole) | Twitter

Follow Isadore on Twitter: Isadore Day (@ChiefDay) | Twitter

Follow Doug on Twitter: Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders) | Twitter

Read about the Program: http://www.couchichinginstitute.ca/conference/2016-conference


2016 Summer Conference Reading List

See link for our suggested reading list related to this year’s topic courtesy of Manticore Books.

We are now accepting applications for scholarships to the Summer Conference. The deadline to submit is May 31, 2016. Apply online or email your completed form to couchiching@couchichinginstitute.ca.


The Couchiching Gala 2016 Recap
Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership

April 11th, Great Hall, Hart House, University of Toronto
Chair, Public Policy Award and Gala Committees, Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

The 5th Couchiching Gala took place on Monday, April 11th at the University of Toronto’s Hart House in the historic Great Hall. Board members welcomed 100 guests to spirited discussion over dinner with change champions and public intellectuals Michael Adams, Denise Balkissoon, Desmond Cole, Karen Ho, Jon Kay, Teva Harrison, Jack Mintz, Enid Slack and Armine Yalnizyan. Portions of this Gala were generously supported by the Ryerson City Building Institute, Humber College, Scotiabank, and House of Anansi Press.

This year, we had our youngest and most diverse team of Torontonians hosting tables. I’m charmed that we were able to have an equal number of men and women hosting as well and expect this will set a new (and overdue) precedent of parity for future Galas.

Notably, the addition of a special Young Professional rate of $200 for this year’s dinner meant that we were able to engage more young people than ever before. This ticket option also invited generous sponsorship of nine seats that allowed us to include a mix of students and professionals early in their careers and who are friends of Couchiching. Thank you to those who helped to create those spaces.

The Institute celebrated the public policy achievements of Dr. Anne Golden, who spoke optimistically about urbanism and cities. Anne celebrated the recent explosion of interest in city building, the calibre of leadership at the professional and political levels in our cities, the widespread acceptance of Jane Jacobs’ wisdom that cities are ecosystems, and the renewed interest in the public realm. She also cautioned the audience on driverless cars and the uncertain effect that disruptive automobile technology will have on our urban centres.

Anne’s thoughtful remarks on “Cities at a Tipping Point” are available online here.

Proceeds from the Gala directly support the scholarship funds for our Summer Conference. I hope to see you at the lake!

Finally, as Gala Chair, I would like to thank my dedicated committee members: Lili Cretu, Elizabeth Dubois, and Melissa Pogue for their work on the planning and execution of this event. It was a pleasure to collaborate with them.

Thank you to everyone who supported the work and spirit of the Institute at the Gala.


President’s Welcome at the Gala

On behalf the Institute, I would like to welcome everyone to the 5th annual Couchiching Gala and thank you for supporting the Institute. Read more


Chair Karen Hamilton

Round Two of the Couchiching Challenge!

Couchiching in all its facets is about challenge; challenging speakers and one another to think more deeply about the nature of democracy ‘one conversation at a time’.

The Gala was an enormous success and the countdown is on to the Summer Conference.

Fund-raising for these facets of the Couchiching reality is a creative and interesting challenge and there has been some very good response from corporate donors to date.

Now it’s time, though, to challenge ourselves …

The Couchiching Challenge calls for each of us reading this issue of Couchiching Connects to donate $100 to The Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs.

The first few $100s are ‘in’. Who’s next? Let the Couchiching Challenge begin!

Please give generously.

Couchiching Community News


Steve Paiken’s Blog of April 8th remembers Stephen Clarkson: “’Canada has lost a great mind in Stephen Clarkson,’” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, after learning of the University of Toronto professor’s death on Feb. 28.

That we have. And TVO had the pleasure of having had Clarkson as a guest on the air on numerous times over the past couple of decades.”

Note: Stephen was a speaker at the 2003 Summer Conference, Continentalism: What’s in it for us?

Read more



The Globe and Mail, April 14th: Ferry de Kerckhove wrote: “Last year, at the Miami Global Forum, the brilliant director of Miami International Airport gave a typical American presentation about the success of his operations, noting that they were closing in on 100 airlines landing at the facility. When I asked how he managed the so-called government-financed airlines of the Middle East – Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, renowned for their readiness to outspend competition – he replied: “Anyone is welcome, provided they abide by my rules.” Ferry is a board member of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada”. From 2012 to 2013, he also did government relations work for Qatar Airways.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 30th: Preston Manning wrote: “A few days before the release of the federal budget, police in Quebec laid criminal charges against former Liberal deputy premier and municipal affairs minister Nathalie Normandau, and long-time Liberal party organizer Marc-Yvan Côté.” The founder of the Manning Centre was the 2007 recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership.

Read more

The New York Times, March 26th: Reporter Christopher Clarey wrote: Richard W. Pound never won an Olympic medal, and he finished a distant third in his only campaign for president of the International Olympic Committee. But when the histories of this tumultuous sports era are written, Pound will most likely play a significant role.” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport” and the 2009 Summer Conference, “The Global Politics of Food”.

Read more

Aaron Paquette Blog, March 24th: In a posting entitled “I Believe Survivors - #ibelieve survivors, Aaron Paquette wrote: “I believe survivors. Here in Canada a sexual assault trial just wrapped up that has captured national interest. These alleged sexual assaults were of a surprisingly violent nature, (again – allegedly) perpetrated by a national entertainment icon.” Aaron was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationships Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada”.

Read more

Financial Post, March 22nd: Jack Mintz wrote: “Canada’s debt bomb has just gotten a lot bigger, with Tuesday’s budget projecting a deficit of $29.4 billion in 2016-17 and lowering the eligibility for old age security from 67 years of age to 65 again. Once we add on other big-ticket liabilities that we have failed to sock away money to pay for — particularly health care, long-term care and other age-related expenditures — Canada is nearly exploding in debt.” Jack was a table host at the 2016 Couchiching Gala.

Read more

Canadian Business, March 22nd: Mike Moffat wrote: “Ahead of the 2016 federal budget, I had a list of eight things to watch for, beyond the size of the deficit. The budget addressed six of the eight items, mostly through the announcement of new funding, and much of which did not appear in the Liberal campaign platform.” Mike was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference: “Are we Failing Our Future: Time for a New Deal between Generations”, and is an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy (BEPP) group at the Ivey Business School and a Fellow at the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management.

Read more

Toronto Star, March 24th: Former board member Alex Himelfarb wrote: “Pundits and mainstream media have largely ignored or discounted the Bernie Sanders campaign, happily declaring it over with every setback. And yet, even if well behind in delegates, Sanders keeps on trucking. Too little attention has been paid to what this exceptional campaign will have accomplished — win or lose”. Alex, a former clerk of the privy council and former Institute board member, is Director emeritus of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, at York University.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 24th: Tom Flanagan wrote: “By-elections can be important for many reasons. Tuesday’s provincial by-election in Calgary-Greenway was significant because of its impact on the rivalry between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party.” Tom is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, was chair of the aboriginal futures research program at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity”.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 23rd: Glen Hodgson wrote: “It is a well-worn cliché – but also entirely true – that Canada has been a trading nation throughout its economic history.” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport” and the 2009 Summer Conference, “The Global Politics of Food”.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 22nd: William Thorsell, senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, mentioned newly appointed senator, Ratna Omidvar: “There is something like a gun pointed at the heart of Canada’s parliamentary system: the sudden predominance of independent senators.” Ratna was a speaker at the 2007 Summer Conference “The Stranger Next Door: Making Diversity Work” and a table host at the 2016 Couchiching Gala.

Read more


Our Alumni/Members in the News ...

Maclean’s, April 7th: Writer Cathy Gulli wrote: “Isadore Day Wiindawtegowinini is the regional chief of Ontario for the Assembly of First Nations, whose jurisdiction includes 133 communities across the province. Among them is Pikangikum, a remote reserve in the northwestern wilderness. It is home to more than 2,000 Anishinaabe peoples, but as of last week, there were nine fewer: a baby, a toddler, a preschooler and their parents, maternal grandparents, and an uncle and his girlfriend were all killed in a house fire on March 29.” Chief Day will be a speaker at the 2016 Summer Conference.

Read more

April 7th: Jack Mintz, a table host at the 2016 Couchiching Gala, received an award at the 29th Annual Testimonial Dinner & Awards presented by Canada’s Public Policy Forum. He is the President’s Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.

Read more

April 4th: Historian Margaret MacMillan delivered the 2016 Bluma Lecture, “breaking new ground by examining the women who helped create history and whose voices help historians write it.” The warden of St. Antony’s College and professor of International History at the University of Oxford was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity”.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, April 3rd: Post-secondary education reporter Simona Chiose quoted Constance Backhouse in an article entitled “Justice on Campus”. Constance, a feminist legal expert and law professor at the University of Ottawa, is a long-time Summer Conference delegate.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 29th: Reporter Michelle Zilio wrote: “Former prime minister Paul Martin says a slow global economy, particularly in China and Europe, presents an opportunity for Canada to re-engage with Africa after a decade of distant relations with the continent under the former Conservative government.” He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationships Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada”.

Read more

Turtle Island News, March 22nd: “Ontario regional chief Isadore Day said: “We are very encouraged to see that there will be $2.6 billion in new education funding over the next five years. Also, we commend the $2.24 billion in water and waste water over the next five years so that every First Nation child has access to safe drinking water no matter where they live.” However, Chief Day also said the money promised for housing and child services falls far short of what is needed and urged the government to fully implement the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” He will be a speaker at the 2016 Summer Conference.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, March 24th: Gloria Galloway wrote: “Two decades ago he was the slayer of the federal deficit, but Paul Martin says the red ink running through the budget announced this week by the new Liberal government is needed to build Canada’s future – and especially the future of young First Nations people.” He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationships Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada”.

Read more

The Hill Times, March 21st: Alex Himelfarb was a panelist arguing in favour of making proportional representation part of Canada’s electoral system during the third annual Progress Summit. The former Privy Council Clerk was a member of the Institute’s board of directors.

The Globe and Mail, March 19th: Professor Mike Moffat was quoted in an article by national reporter Eric Andrew-Gee: “About a decade ago, a bumper sticker started appearing on the roads of London, Ont. ‘Out of a job yet?’ it read. ‘Keep buying foreign!’” Mike was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference: “Are we Failing Our Future: Time for a New Deal between Generations”, and is an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy (BEPP) group at the Ivey Business School and a Fellow at the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management.

Read more

Maclean’s, March 20th: Armine Yalnizyan, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Glen Hodgson, Conference Board of Canada, and Mike Moffat, Ivy Business School, were among 14 economists asked “to send a chart that reflects they would be watching on budget day.” Armine, who is co-chair of the 2016 Summer Conference, and Mike were speakers at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Time for a New Deal Between Generations”. Glen was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport” and the 2009 Summer Conference, “The Global Politics of Food”.

Read more

TVO, March 19th: Ratna Omidvar was profiled in What To Read Right Now: " Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended a three-year moratorium on new Senate appointments by naming seven people to the upper chamber. Three of the seven will represent Ontario. Here’s a short primer on who those three Ontarians are and the experience they will bring to their new responsibilities.”

Read more

February 5th: Akaash Maharaj was invited to address members of Argentina’s Congress and Interior Ministry on creating a new Freedom of Information law for the country. Argentinians had just elected a new President, representing a different political party from the majority in Congress, and there were concerns that the country might face a legislative deadlock over the issue; they have since moved forward with the new law. Akaash spoke as head of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC). He was a closing keynote speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationships Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada”.

Books of Note

Two Freedoms: Canada’s Global Future by Hugh Segal asks: “What purposes should a democratic country's foreign policy serve? Hugh Segal investigates this question as he argues for a foreign policy that complements Canada's place as one of the most fortunate countries in the world. He argues for a policy of purpose, one that incorporates good strategy, tactics, and design.” The book was launched on April 14th in Ottawa by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Read more

Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic Dividend They Will Bring by Bessma Momani is an invigorating study of the Arab world and the transformative power of youth.

For a review see http://reviewcanada.ca/events/2015/12/03/silent-promise-of-arab-youth/

Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word, co-editor Alex Himelfarb, offers a different take on taxes.

For a review see http://www.cpj.ca/book-review-tax-not-four-letter-word-alex-himelfarb-and-jordan-himelfarb

Calling all Readers of Couchiching Connects!

Please send information on Newsmakers, Members on the Move, Alumni in the News, and Opinions: Our Members Write ... to Sheila Robertson, Editor, Couchiching Connects, sheila.robcom@gmail.com

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

Read More


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