Couchiching Connects: October 2015

In this Issue:

Couch News

The President's Message

2016 Couchiching Gala

2016 Summer Conference



Communications and Marketing Committee

Couch Community News


Our Members Write

Alumni in the News

Recommended Readings

Calling All Readers!

News Flash! Nominations for the 2016 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership Now Open!

The President's Message
Adam Redish

And we’re off!

Last month I wrote about what a great year the Institute just experienced, how excited I am about the upcoming year, and the real sense of “Buzz” I feel as we move forward.

And we have certainly hit the ground running. With our first Board and Executive meetings behind us, the serious planning for the year is underway, the various committees have started meeting, and planning is well underway for the 2016 Summer Conference, the 2016 Gala, and Conversations.

We are also moving ahead with our strategic planning process. As regular readers of Couchiching Connects will know, last year at this time we held a Board retreat to give thought to some real “first principles” for the Institute – who we are, what are our vision and mission, and how we deliver on those. I provide a brief update on the strategic planning process below.

Couch regulars may also have notice some new “job titles” for the Executive as we streamline our organizational structure. While I recognize that is a little “inside baseball” for some readers, I also think it is important that our members and readers understand how the Institute operates. More on that in next month’s issue of Connects.

I also want to recognize the many Couch friends and members who participated as candidates in the federal election. Standing for office is one of the greatest contributions to democracy a person can make; as an Institute that considers democracy as the heart of our mission, on behalf of Couchiching, I congratulate all our friends and member from all parties who stood for office and offer our best wishes to those elected.

Strategic Planning Update

At 85 years old, Couchiching has a proud history as one of Canada’ pre-eminent public affairs institutes. At the 2015 retreat, the Board discussed how we can build on that history, move the Institute forward, and ensure we remain relevant for the next 85 years.

Some of the issues discussed at the retreat are already being enacted:

  • We are strengthening the alignment between the Conversations and the Summer Conference to build a more cohesive conversational arc throughout the year.
  • We made the Summer Conference more accessible by trimming it down to three days and reducing the cost.
  • We developed a renewed Mission and Vision statement focused on our contribution to democracy in Canada through conversations on the important public affairs issues of the day.


Of course there is more to do and I am pleased on announce that we established a four-member Strategic Planning Committee to move that work forward over the next six months. The members are Board member Rikia Saddy, Board member Ross Anderson, former Board member and past Conversations chair Salim Rachid, and former President David McGown. They will focus on strengthening our financial sustainability and value proposition (for participants and funders) and considering new and different models of how we deliver on our mandate and ensure that Couchiching remains Canada’s premier Public Affairs Institute for the next 85 years. Watch Couchiching Connects for updates on this important work.


The Couchiching Gala 2016: The Institute’s Signature Toronto Event, April 13th, 2016
Couchiching Award for Public Policy Excellence

Chair, Public Policy and Gala Committees, Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

For the uninitiated, the annual Couchiching Gala is an evening of sparkling conversations with a range of dynamic table hosts and is a key element in our fund-raising. Planning for the 2016 Gala is underway. Watch Couchiching Connects for details coming soon.

The Gala also includes the annual Couchiching Award for Leadership in Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership, which honours the accomplishments of a Canadian who has made significant public policy contributions to Canadian life and has demonstrated bold leadership in public policy. The award recognizes exemplary actions taken by an individual to formulate and implement policy that has had a positive impact on Canada or a community within Canada. Past recipients include Jane Jacobs, Henry Morgentaler, Elizabeth May, Lincoln Alexander, Stéphane Dion, David Dodge, Mark Carney, Phil Fontaine, and William Davis.

Nominations are now open; check our website for details. The Award will be presented at The 2016 Couchiching Gala in Toronto in April 2016.


The 2016 Summer Conference - The Canada Project
August 5th to 7th, 2016
Co-chairs Emilie Nicolas and Armine Yalnazian

The planning for 2016 is underway! The theme of next year's Summer Conference will be the future of Canadian Citizenship. Canada is a country built of immigrants with different waves over the different decades of our history, leading us to ask as we approach our 150th year: What will, and what should, Canadian citizenship look like for the next 150 years? In a world where many say borders don’t matter, with increasing levels of migration and trans-nationalism, what does it mean to be a citizen (of any country)? From economic migrants to temporary foreign works to Aboriginal relations, we ask the question: What do we think it should mean to be a Canadian citizen?

In the next few weeks, we will be hosting brainstorming sessions across the country, and we'd love to hear your thoughts. If you're interested in participating on the Program Committee or in attending a brainstorming session, contact

A Must-Read!

On October 17th in The Globe and Mail, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi penned an article that is essential reading for every Canadian. The headline, “Divided, Canada stands to lose what makes it great” says it all. He delivered the closing keynote at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time" (

Read more


Fundraising! Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations
Chair Karen Hamilton

The recent election further demonstrates the importance of democracy and being informed. Couchiching’s mission is “Building Canadian democracy, one great conversation at a time”. To achieve this, we need your help. When you become a member and make a donation, you enable the Institute to increase awareness, understanding, and knowledge of issues among people in Canada through open and inclusive dialogue without advocacy or partisanship. Please show your support and help us continue to play a pre-eminent role in Canada’s civic discourse as an important national forum on public affairs.

Couchiching Conversations
Chair Ahmer Khan

Couchiching Conversations are free public events that aim to provide a safe space for challenging discussions.

Stay tuned for the next Conversation and tweet topic suggestions @couchiching or on Facebook. Stay in touch with twitter: @couchiching, by email: and by website: or

Communications and Marketing Committee
Chair Eranda Gjomema; Vice-chair Sheila Robertson

We respectfully bid adieu to Madeline Koch, who served as the Chair of the Committee for the past year. Madeline has been a Board member of the Institute for close to 30 years. She will be greatly missed for her dedication, energy, insights, and leadership. Replacing Madeline as chair is Eranda Gjomema, who has been a member of the Committee and has also been involved with the Institute for three years. Sheila Robertson continues as Vice-Chair and editor of Couchiching Connects. Joining the Committee are Rochelle Pereira and Anna Ilnyckyj.

We are looking for other volunteers who would like to apply their marketing and communications skills and work with a dynamic and motivated team. We welcome volunteers who would like to get hands-on experience on Social Media, Graphic Design, Website Content Development and Media Relations.

Contact Eranda Gjomema


Couchiching Community News



John Davison Harbon, C.D, M.A, D.Litt (Hon.) F.S.R.A, Journalist, Author, Educator, and
Lieutenant Commander RCN (r), and a long-standing and loyal Board member, passed away on September 13th.

Read more


Our Members Write

The Toronto Star, October 2nd: Former Board member Alex Himelfarb wrote: “The more we cut government, the less good Ottawa does, the more Canadians distrust it, the easier to cut. We must not be blind to what we’re losing in the process.” Alex is a former Clerk of the Privy Council and co-editor of Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word.”

Read more


Alumni in the News

UM Today, Fall 2015: Phil Fontaine was one of five Indigenous University of Manitoba alumni, leaders, and community leaders who discussed “their relationship to residential schools, reconciliation, and the way forward.” He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together As One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” (

Read more

UM Today, Fall 2015: Constance Backhouse has been awarded the Canada Council for the Arts 2015 Molson Prize in the social sciences/humanities “for the cohesion, integrity, and relevance of her work in helping marginalized groups. She is a long-time Summer Conference delegate.

Read more

On the TTF: Mike Moffat, a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference and an economics professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a new deal between generations” (, was quoted in a Globe and Mail article by national reporter Eric Andrew-Gee as saying: “The elimination of the 6.1 per cent tariff on passenger vehicles, albeit over five years, could reduce prices for Japanese cars by $1,000 or more.”

Read more

Mike was also one of three economists asked by Maclean’s Magazine “to assess Stephen Harper on his handling of the economy, “ and said: “Despite a number of smart policies, history will view the Harper years as a lost opportunity.”

Read more

The Agenda, October 5th: Jane Hilderman, Executive Director of Samara Canada, was a guest as The Agenda discussed rallying the strategic vote. Both and ran campaigns to try to coordinate the efforts of "progressive voters" to unseat the federal Conservatives. The Agenda examined if strategic voting changes the outcome of the election in ridings where the combined Liberal/NDP/Green vote outweighs support for the Conservative candidate but none of the individual progressive candidates have sufficient support to come first in a four-way race. Jane was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a new deal between generations” (

All episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin are available on-demand in streaming video.

The Agenda, October 1st: Former Liberal leader and premier of Ontario Bob Rae visited The Agenda to discuss his book, "What's Happened to Politics," applying what he's learned in a lifetime of public life against the current state of politics in Canada, and why today's version is coming up short. He was a table host at the 2015 Couchiching Gala.

All episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin are available on-demand in streaming video.

The Globe and Mail, October 1st: Barrie McKenna, a correspondent and columnist in the Ottawa bureau, wrote about Mark Carney sounding the alarm on climate-change costs: “Mark Carney was speaking in Britain to an audience of insurance executives, but he might as well have been talking to oil workers in Fort McMurray, Alta., their bosses in Calgary or bankers on Bay Street.” The Bank of England Governor was the recipient of the 2013 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership (

Read more

The Globe and Mail, September 29th: Paul Heinbecker, a Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, wrote: “The leaked Foreign Affairs document indicating Canada’s reputation “has declined or is under threat” is half right. But it is not just our multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations that is failing, as has been suggested.” He was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada” (

Read more

Maclean’s Magazine, September 18th: “Vanishing Canada”, a Maclean’s Investigation by Anne Kingston, quoted Armine Yalnizyan. The senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations” (

Read more

The Agenda, September 23rd: Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Marie Wilson examines how the calls-to-action contained in the TRC report are being addressed by political parties during the 2015 election campaign. Included in her concerns are education, child welfare and Aboriginal healing practices. She was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together As One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” (

September 20th: Mona Eltahawy, the speaker at the April 27th Couchiching Conversation, was a featured author at the 10th Anniversary Brooklyn Book Festival.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, September 16th: Mike Moffatt was quoted in an article entitled “The Liberal Plan” by reporters Daniel LeBlanc and Bill Curry as a member of an advisory council of MPs and independent economists. The Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy group at Ivey Business School at Western University was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations (

Read more


Recommended Readings

Across Canada by Story! by Douglas Gibson. With Doug’s second book, he brings new stories about Robertson Davies, Jack Hodgins, W.O. Mitchell, Alistair MacLeod, and Alice Munro and adds lively portraits of Al Purdy, Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Laurence, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Margaret Atwood, Wayne Johntson, Linwood Barclay, Michael Ondaatje, and many, many others. Whether fly fishing in Haida Gwaii or sailing off Labrador, he is a first-rate ambassador for Canada and the power of great stories ( Doug is a past member of the Institute’s Executive Board and was co-chair of the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: the Power and Potential of Sport” (
Read review

History’s People by Margaret MacMillan, Anansi, She was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment of Wasted Opportunity”, (
Read review: The Globe and Mail Review by Madeleine Thien, October 3rd, (

What’s Happened to Politics? by Bob Rae, Simon & SchusterCanada, @SimonSchusterCA. He was a table host at the 2015 Couchiching Gala.
Read review: The Globe and Mail Review by David Miller, August 28th, David Miller is president and CEO of WWF-Canada and the former mayor of Toronto.

The Comeback by John Ralson Saul, Viking 2014. He was the featured speaker at a 2015 Couchiching Conversation.
Read review: The Toronto Star review by writer, journalist, filmmaker, and public relations professional Robert Collison,

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.

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


Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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