The Broadbent Blog

It is time to ask some hard questions about democracy


On November 6th and 7th, the Broadbent Institute is sponsoring a conference in honour of the late Allan Blakeney. Admission to the event is free, see below for details. 

With the recent federal election, our country has just gone through a huge exercise in democracy. It is now an opportune time to ask ourselves about the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s democracy and how we can make it better.

That is exactly what a group of academics from around Canada will be doing at a conference in honour of Allan Blakeney, sponsored by the Broadbent Institute, and held at the University of Saskatchewan on November 6th and 7th.

Allan Blakeney was the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan from 1971 to 1982 and spent the later part of his career as a scholar at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law. As a politician, public administrator, lawyer, and professor, Blakeney cared passionately about all aspects of democratic practice. He passed away in 2011.

To honour his memory, academics from across the political spectrum are coming together to ask hard questions about Canadian democracy.  

With Bill C-51 and debates over the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies, how do human rights relate to democratic practices? Is it the responsibility of elected representatives to engage in rational discourse instead of appealing to emotional, hot button issues?

What is the fairest way to finance the activities of political parties?

Why aren’t more women being elected? What role does the non-partisan public service play in sustaining democracy?

How can Indigenous people be involved with, lead and shape public policy decisions that affect their daily lives?

Can a society that has vast inequality between rich and poor be considered democratic?

Should Parliament or the courts be entrusted with ensure respect for the constitution?

The commonality among the conference’s diverse participants is that they view democracy as more than the mere act of voting.   Democracy is not something that just happens every four years. It is something that constantly needs to be nurtured within a society to be truly meaningful to all citizens.

The conference will be held in Room 150 in the Law Building at the University of Saskatchewan on Friday, November 6, 1:30pm-5:00pm and Saturday, November 7, 9:00am-5:00pm. The Broadbent Institute will be hosting a reception at the close of the conference from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in the Atrium of the Law Building.

For more information or to register for the conference please email: jbizjak[at]broadbentinstitute[dot]ca. A full conference program is available at