Frank words and pointed advice at Broadbent Institute summit

Karl Nerenberg /

When the founding leader of the Reform party, Preston Manning, retired from politics to start an Institute bearing his name, folks around him said the Manning Institute would not be a 'think tank' but a 'do tank.'

The Institute that bears the name of one-time NDP leader Ed Broadbent has similar 'do tank' ambitions and they were on display this past weekend.

From Friday to Sunday, the Broadbent Institute held what was, in effect, its inaugural major event, the Progress Summit, in Ottawa.

The Summit brought together Canadian progressives -- or, at least, people the Broadbent organizers consider to be progressive -- with activists and politicians from the United States, Australia, Great Britain and France.

There was significant discussion of policy, including indigenous rights, the green economy, youth employment, income inequality and the future of manufacturing.

But there was also a strong focus on strategy and tactics.

The Broadbent Institute, like its counterpart on the Right, is all about linking theory with practice, ideas with action. And so, there were workshops and panels on everything from Google campaigns to options for a beleaguered labour movement to "lessons from winning progressive campaigns in the U.S. and Canada.”

That last panel paired British Columbia environmental campaigner Tzeporah Berman and one time NDP Quebec organizer Ray Guardia with two Americans: Erik Peterson, of the strategy and training institute named after the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, and Ashley Pinedo, who worked at the grassroots level on the 2012 Obama campaign in the key swing state of Florida (which Obama carried, as he had in 2008).

Peterson talked about something he called the Wellstone triangle (the grassroots, electoral politics and public policy).

Guardia and Pinedo told generally upbeat stories about the winning campaigns in which they had been involved.

Berman, however, struck a more sombre note. She said pointedly that the Right is beating "us" in the tactics department.

"We have been too focused on the air war, on a core team that sends out messages, and not sufficiently focused on the ground war, working at the people-to-people and community level," she said.

The B.C. environmentalist advocated for smart and data-driven strategy.

"We should stop trying to talk to everyone," she said, and use good data to focus on those groups who can be convinced.

"The Right is good at message control." Berman sighed, "They know how to create an echo-chamber. We progressives are too invested in our own intellect. We become bored too quickly and move on to another topic."

On this point, Berman seemed to be speaking from a wealth of bitter experience.

"Winning campaigns is not a function of policy, it is about motivation," she noted, and then added that progressives are good at critiquing but "suck at proposing alternatives."

On Sunday evening, a half day after the Summit, one of those too-many-to-remember CBC-TV panels, this one call "Three to Watch," had a brief chat that brought Berman's comment to mind.

The three young up-and-comers and CBC Sunday night news host Wendy Mesley were discussing the still fairly feeble public opposition to what the three seemed to agree is frightful legislation -- the Harper government's Fair Elections Act.

One panelist almost echoed Berman's view when he observed that opponents of Fair Elections have not yet crafted effective messages.

They have not yet figured out how to motivate ordinary folks, he said, and that includes folks who might actually consider voting Conservative.

If the opponents of the Fair Elections Act want to have an impact, and maybe force major changes to the bill, they will have to campaign in a smarter and more effective way.

That, at least, is how this panel sees it.

It is also probably pretty close to what Tzeporah Berman would advise.


Broadbent Institute and Equal Voice to celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister

OTTAWA—Equal Voice and the Broadbent Institute are hosting a special event tonight to celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard this weekend. Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to the election of women in Canada, will name Ms. Gillard a Global Champion for Women in Politics. Ms. Gillard is in Ottawa as the keynote speaker at the Broadbent Institute’s inaugural Progress Summit.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to honour Ms. Gillard for her remarkable leadership.  She is only one of only very few women to ever lead a G20 country and we are delighted to seize this opportunity to celebrate her,” notes Raylene Lang-Dion, National Chair of Equal Voice. 

Ms. Gillard served as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, and the Australian Labor Party leader, from 2010 to 2013 by forming a coalition government. She was the first woman to hold either position. During her tenure, she did not shy away from calling out sexist behaviour from other politicians in the legislature.  In 2013, she lost the party leadership to Kevin Rudd.

“Ms. Gillard is a role model for women in politics and public life,” said Kathleen Monk, Senior Advisor at the Broadbent Institute. “A capable leader whose government ushered in many progressive social and environmental policies, such as paid parental leave, Australia’s first national program for people with disabilities and carbon pricing.”

A small number of tickets remain available for tonight’s event. They can be purchased on site on location at the Delta Hotel, Penthouse suite located at 101 Lyon Street North. Tickets are $50. All proceeds after costs will go to advancing women in politics.


For more information, please contact:

Nancy Peckford, Equal Voice (613) 292-7941
Denise Siele, Equal Voice (613) 276-3274
Kathleen Monk, Broadbent Institute (613) 296-2073

Global shift to greener economies happening because of economic benefits, panelists say

Laura Ryckewaert / Hill Times

Governments and economic leaders around the world are increasingly speaking out about the economic impetus to address climate change and the need to shift to green economies, but Canada is dragging its feet and investing money and attention into further developing existing, traditional energy sources, experts said Saturday at a Broadbent Institute summit panel on green economies.

“There are many people who think we can only have a greener economy by having less of the other things, and other people who think we can have more of the innovation and prosperity but only by having a less green economy. I think that’s fundamentally wrong,” said panelist Chris Ragan, associate professor of macroeconomic and economic policy at McGill University in Montreal, adding the two sides need to stop being pitted against each other.

The Broadbent Institute’s first-ever Progress Summit is being held at the Delta hotel in downtown Ottawa from March 28-31. On Saturday, Mr. Ragan, Bruce Lorrie, president of the Ivey Foundation, Tom Rand, Cleantech adviser at the MaRS Institute, and Clare Demerse, a fellow with the Broadbent Institute and director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, took part in a discussion on “The (good) business of building a green economy.”

Panel moderator Jeremy Runnals, managing editor of Corporate Knights magazine, said it doesn’t take a hard look to see that change is underway globally when it comes to economic policies and the environment. Over the past year-and-a-half, global economic leaders, including International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde, have spoken out about the economic impetus to address climate change, he said.

Globally, a transition to clean energy is already well underway, said Ms. Demerse, with more than $1.5-trillion invested in the global clean energy sector to date. Ms. Demerse said in some international markets, alternative energy technologies like wind and solar are already “cost competitive with the fossil fuel alternative.” With an international shift towards green energy policies and a reduction of carbon emissions, Ms. Demerse said there’s a strong fiscal argument to investing in new energy sources that are environmentally friendly.

 “At this point in Canada we’ve got a couple of options. One is we can choose to build that resilient, diversified clean energy economy that can compete successfully in a low-carbon world, or we can run the risk of sinking billions more into infrastructure for oilsands production that the world’s markets ultimately may not want,” said Ms. Demerse.

She said greenhouse gas pollution from the oilsands is at a level that oilsands growth is set to undue other efforts made to reduce carbon emissions over the years. Ms. Demerse said if countries around the world begin taking the environment more seriously, oilsands development will look increasingly “fragile.”

“So making that clean energy transition, I would argue, is a safer economic choice for Canada, even before we look at the risks we would run economically from climate change itself,” she told attendees.

Mr. Ragan, who qualified himself as a macro economist and not an environmental economist, said finding “clever” policies that encourage both innovation and environmental protection would create a better economy overall.

A redesign of our current fiscal structure is a “crucial piece” of the puzzle, he said. Governments need to be prepared to make those kinds of shifts, like imposing new taxes on activities that create pollution, while in turn lowering taxes on personal income to address “both halves of that package.”

“None of this ought to be, in a sensible world, a partisan issue,” said Mr. Ragan, who later added that Canada has been “passive-aggressive obstructionists” in the global environmental conversation in the last few years.

In response to Mr. Runnals questioning whether an economic indicator other than GDP should be used to measure economic growth, Mr. Ragan said in terms of calculating national assets, when a tree is cut down to make lumber, we should probably also be accounting for the loss of that tree, an idea that was met with applause from attendees.

Mr. Lorrie said better information and better measurements will help bring about more investment in green technology, and said right now there’s an information-gathering deficit, pointing to the cessation of the long-form census as an example.

Mr. Rand said “energy incumbents” continue to invest in finding more oil and gas reserves which are likely to be limited by environmental regulation as the world works to combat climate change, rather than investing to find new sources of energy. Mr. Rand said he thinks enhanced geothermal energy is the “holy grail” of clean energy. Despite the fact that clean energy investments make economic sense, Mr. Rand said the market isn’t rational, and companies need to be incentivized to invest in clean energy.

Ms. Demerse said Canada needs to take its own approach to improve environmental regulations and shift to a green economy and can’t look to the U.S. as a marker because the circumstances simply aren’t the same as the U.S. does not have an oil sands equivalent.


Canadian musicians to rock the capital

OTTAWA–Women from around the world will take centre stage as the Broadbent Institute’s inaugural Progress Summit kicks off its first full day in Ottawa.

Following a speech by Broadbent Institute chair Ed Broadbent laying out the paths to build a progressive Canada, three keynote speakers will take the floor through the day, beginning with Mariana Mazzucato of the University of Sussex talking about the economics of innovation. Mazzucato, author of The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, will be followed by Axelle Lemaire, a Canadian-born French National Assemblywoman.

The summit’s main keynote takes place at 4:30 p.m. Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will discuss the future of progressive politics. Following her keynote address, the Broadbent Institute and Equal Voice will host a special event to celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

In the evening, Canadian musician Sarah Harmer, along with Toronto’s Blurred Vision and Sally Folk of Montreal, will take the stage to entertain summit participants. 

WHAT: Progress Summit

WHEN: March 29, 8:30 a.m.

Delta City Centre
101 Lyon St. N, Ottawa

For the full schedule:

For more information:

Caitlin Kealey or 613-818-7956

Resilience is key to women's success in politics, former Australian PM Julia Gillard says

Jenny Uechi / Vancouver Observer

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in Ottawa this weekend for the Broadbent Institute Progress Summit. Speaking to Raylene Lang-Dion from Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada, Gillard gave some advice for women aiming to enter politics: 

"You've got to be resilient," she said. "Politics in today's world is somewhere that you're criticized [through] social media, and people will see the most awful things written about them and really stress and worry about that. You've got to find some of the tricks to say, 'I'm going to keep all that at arm's length. 'I can 't let twitter tell me what to think about myself.'"

She said mistakes big and small can happen, but that women in politics need to remember the larger picture.

"Don't worry about the small things, focus on the big things, the big purpose that got you into politics in the first place...Always be clear about your purpose. You won't survive in politics unless you know why you're there…be strong in yourself. Shape your own image of yourself, and don't let others, whether it be pages of the newspapers, or TV cameras or something else, shape your image."

Former top Obama adviser Mitch Stewart talks about narrative building, melding cold, hard data, analytics at Broadbent Institute summit

Tim Naumetz / Hill Times

A former top campaign organizer for U.S. President Barack Obama, now working on a political action committee backing Hilary Clinton should she seek the presidency in 2016, gave closed-door briefings and workshops to union organizers, activists and NDP volunteers Thursday as part of a Broadbent Institute  “progress summit” for political action.

The workshops and strategy sessions by Mitch Stewart, a series of briefings that also featured members of the institute’s newly appointed field of high-profile “leadership fellows” also involved in the sessions, took place the day before the official start of the summit that headlines former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard as a somewhat controversial keynote speaker.

Elected as Australia’s Labour Party prime minister in 2010, Ms. Gillard included opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage among her main policy positions.

The two-day summit hosted by the Broadbent Institute—a left wing or progressive version of the Calgary-based Manning Centre, a right-wing training ground and networking institute founded by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning—features activists, authors, professors and social democrat politicians with panels and individual presentations covering a range of social and economic themes, including green politics, indigenous peoples’ rights social networking advocacy campaigns and defence of trade union rights.

Some of Parliament Hill’s top journalists, including author Susan Delacourt ofThe Toronto Star, Canadian Press bureau chief Heather Scoffield, and Maclean’s magazine columnist and author Paul Wells, are moderating several of the panels.

Mr. Stewart, founding partner at 270 Strategies, a longtime political activist, and Battleground States director for the Obama campaign in the 2012 presidential general election, was unable to speak in detail about his remarks and presentations behind the closed doors of “summit leadership training,” but explained them in general terms during an interview with The Hill Times.

A recent national Liberal policy convention in Montreal also featured closed-door campaign training sessions for party activists, but a presentation on online campaigning from another former Obama organizer was open to journalists.

“We talked about the lessons that we learned on the Obama campaign of running an effective campaign, running an effective organization, talking about setting goals, what are the strategies that can help you achieve those goals, and then what are the tactics that can help your strategy achieve those goals, giving some real-world examples and then workshopping a little bit with some Canadian specific examples,” Mr. Stewart said, without elaborating on the Canadian content.

“We’ll talk a lot this afternoon about relationship building, telling the story itself, narrative building, we’ll talk a lot about goal setting, and kind of melding the relationship-building aspects of the campaign with the cold, hard data and analytics of a campaign and how you employ the organization to help you achieve goals that the data and analytics inform,” he said.

Asked if Canadian political parties had reached the same level of sophistication as the Democrats and Republicans, in terms the kind of data-based voter contact campaigns and online networking that first propelled Mr. Obama into the White House and led to his re-election in 2012, Mr. Stewart replied: “I think they are exploring ways of trying to catch up. Your data and privacy acts are different here than they are in the United States. We have access to a lot more information than parties here do, to their voters. Not everything is transferable or replicable.

“In the United States, voter files are basically public information,” Mr. Stewart said. “If you’re a registered voter, everything you put down on your voter registration card, you could have access to, what your address is, anything you put down there,” Mr. Stewart said.

Importantly, electors in most of the states also register as either Democrat or Republican supporters. In Canada, that information can only be obtained through direct voter contact, either by door-to-door canvassing or telephone calling, and usually through election writ periods.

Although the Democratic Party maintains a vast database of state and federal electoral information centrally in Washington, D.C., it is securely guarded from unauthorized access from either inside or outside the party.

“We have a whole staff of people that manage, for sure, and most states have a person too,” Mr. Stewart said.

“The information on there, there is some proprietary information based on door knocks or phone calls, what candidates they support, but there are very tight limitations on what you can use a voter file for and what you can’t,” he said.

In a ruling over court challenges of the outcome in six federal election districts for the 2011 general election in Canada, based on allegations of fraudulent calls to voters who did not support the Conservative party, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley said as part of his judgment that the voters’ home telephone numbers were likely drawn from the Conservative party’s main voter contact and information data base.

However, Judge Mosley ruled there was not enough evidence to rule that misleading calls in any of the six electoral districts affected the outcome of the vote.

A media relations expert providing consulting assistance to the Broadbent Institute, chaired by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, said summit attendees are not exclusively members or supporters of the NDP.

“There’s a wide group of grassroots volunteers, some of whom will likely be volunteering on NDP or for other political parties,” said Caitlin Kealey of MediaStyle.

Progress Summit focuses on building a new prosperity for Canada

OTTAWA–Progressives from across Canada are gathering in Ottawa for the next three days to map out a fair, sustainable and prosperous Canadian economy.

“Convening a gathering of Canada’s most impressive thinkers and leaders for the Institute’s inaugural Progress Summit is a role I cherish,” said Ed Broadbent, chair of the Broadbent Institute.

“We are dedicated to finding the best way forward for a more equal Canada, and I am optimistic that coming out of this Summit we will have real policy answers for the challenges and opportunities facing our country.”

Throughout the weekend, participants will be learning from the best and the brightest from Canada and around the world, including keynote speaker Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia.

“The best ideas come through vigorous discussion and debate,” said Rick Smith, the Broadbent Institute’s Executive Director. “The Summit won’t disappoint -- and will no doubt inform the nation’s policy debates and give new momentum to the Canadian progressive movement.”

The summit will focus on shared prosperity, building a green economy and democratic renewal. Leading organizers and experts in online engagement will share their expertise on how to craft winning campaigns.

There is also a focus on celebrating women in politics, with all four keynotes being prominent women. In addition, the Broadbent Institute and Equal Voice are hosting a reception on Saturday evening for Gillard. Australia’s first female Prime Minister will be named an Equal Voice Global Champion for women in politics.

The summit kicks off with a welcome reception Friday evening and wraps up on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday night, Canadian musicians Sarah Harmer, Blurred Vision and Sally Folk of Montreal are performing for participants.

For the full schedule:

Speakers include:

  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Mariana Mazzucato, author of The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths
  • Anastasia Khoo, Marketing Director, Human Rights Campaign
  • Axelle Lemaire, French National Assemblywoman for Northern Europe
  • Don Drummond, Professor at Queen’s University and Canadian economist
  • Alex Himelfarb, former Privy Council Clerk
  • Nancy Neamtan, Executive Director, Chantier de l'économie sociale
  • Mitch Stewart, 270 Strategies Founding Partner and Battleground States Director for the 2012 Obama for America campaign

For more information:

Caitlin Kealey or 613-818-7956

Progressive think-tank gears up to take on conservatives

Mark Kennedy / Postmedia 

For years, Ed Broadbent fought his battles on the front lines of Canadian politics as leader of the federal NDP.

These days, he’s taking his fight to a different plain — to the battle of ideas, of influence and of political relevance.

He is chair of a think-tank — the Broadbent Institute — that champions “progressive change,” trains activists and confronts some of the long-term issues political parties ignore.

He’s intent on countering the influence of Canadian think-tanks such as the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, established in 2005 by former Reform leader Preston Manning.

“Mr. Manning, from his point of view and from the conservative point of view, has done very well,” Broadbent said in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen.

“They have had an impact on the public debate. And it’s time we did some catch-up, frankly.

“Mr. Manning’s institute does it on the right and we want to do it on the left in Canada.”

Call it the battle of think-tanks. Left versus right. Broadbent versus Manning. Progressive versus conservative.

The two organizations have now become parallel incubators for ideas in Canadian politics, unrestrained by the formal partisan ties that can stifle debate among true believers within parties. Moreover, unlike most traditional think-tanks, both organizations offer training on how to achieve political change — all the way from community groups or city hall to provincial and federal politics.

This weekend in Ottawa, the Broadbent Institute, founded in 2011, will hold its first annual “progress summit.” About 600 people are expected to attend.

The conference will feature topics such as: income inequality; the federal government’s “attack” on the labour movement; the rights of indigenous peoples on natural resource development; and how businesses can build a “green economy.”

The institute believes in the merits of learning from “progressives” elsewhere in the world. Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard will headline a list of speakers that includes a French politician describing the “rise of the right” in Europe, and a human rights “marketing director” based in Washington, D.C.

There will be a session on how to use Google and social media in campaigns, and on “lessons from winning progressive campaigns in the U.S. and Canada.”

The event is virtually a mirror image — with different policy leanings — of the annual Manning Centre conference, the most recent of which was in Ottawa in early March.

Chuck Strahl, a former Conservative MP who chairs the Manning Centre, said the country is well-served by having  parallel think-tanks because political parties are more focused on winning elections.

“The parties themselves are forced, if you will, to focus on what they do best and that leaves it open for other organizations like the Manning Centre and the Broadbent Institute to delve into some of the big issues. We don’t have to get elected to anything.”

Strahl said he welcomes the emergence of the Broadbent Institute.

“It’s not really a competitor; it’s a competitor for ideas. We’re not tilling the same soil here. We’re looking for people on the conservative end of the spectrum, but we both have the same sort of objective: to engage them in civil society.”

Broadbent said his institute faces a big challenge getting its message out because many of the country’s prominent think-tanks, such as the Fraser Institute and the C.D. Howe Institute, are predominantly conservative.

Broadbent’s institute is not a registered charity, nor does it plan to become one. It funds its operations through donations — often $5 or $20 from thousands of donors, says executive director Rick Smith — and will have a budget of over $1 million in the next year

There is a strong NDP tinge to the group; some key players have held prominent jobs in the party.

But the institute proclaims it is an “independent” and “non-partisan.” It has the support of Allan Gregg, once the Progressive Conservative party’s chief pollster, and John Laschinger, formerly campaign manager for many federal and provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Indeed, Smith said the institute appeals to a broad range of Canadians.

“On any given day, the vast majority of Canadians are untethered from any particular party affiliation. They’re open to good ideas and they’re looking for a good debate about the issues of the day. That’s is the kind of audience we’re trying to cater to and reach.”

Equal Voice to honour former Australian PM Julia Gillard as global champion

Broadbent Institute and Equal Voice to celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister

OTTAWA—Equal Voice and the Broadbent Institute will host a special event to celebrate Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard this weekend. Ms. Gillard will offer remarks on her career in politics and Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to the election of women in Canada, will name Ms. Gillard a Global Champion for Women in Politics.

WHO: Former Australian PM Julia Gillard; Equal Voice’s National Chair Raylene Lang-Dion; and the Broadbent Institute’s Kathleen Monk

WHAT: Remarks by Former Australian PM Julia Gillard, followed by a cocktail reception

DATE: Saturday, March 29, 2014

TIME: 6:15pm – 8pm

Delta Hotel, Penthouse
101 Lyon St N


For more information, please contact:

Nancy Peckford, Equal Voice (613) 292-7941
Denise Siele, Equal Voice (613) 276-3274
Kathleen Monk, Broadbent Institute (613) 296-2073

Broadbent Institute announces Leadership Fellows

Fellows to share expertise and experiences with budding leaders

OTTAWA—The Broadbent Institute today announced its first Leadership Fellows -- a talented and diverse group of 18 leaders from across Canada who will share their expertise and experiences with the next generation of Canadian leaders.

“Together, the Leadership Fellows will strengthen the Institute’s ability to support the growth of the progressive movement in Canada,” said Graham Mitchell, the Broadbent Institute’s Director of Training and Leadership.

The inaugural group of Leadership Fellows, part of the expansion of the Institute’s Training and Leadership Program, are:

  • Tzeporah Berman, strategic advisor for environmental organizations
  • Tsering Dolma, Community Outreach Coordinator of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
  • Lois Corbett, environmental consultant
  • Judy Duncan, head organizer and Executive Director of ACORN Canada
  • Sara Ehrhardt, policy expert and public campaigner
  • Bob Gallagher, head of communications and political action for the United Steelworkers, LGBTQ activist
  • Raymond Guardia, campaign manager and current Deputy Chief of Staff for Projet Montréal
  • Jennifer Hollett, award-winning broadcast journalist and digital expert
  • John Laschinger, veteran campaign manager and author
  • Brad Lavigne, consultant, media commentator, author and former campaign manager
  • Allan Gregg, leading research professional and social commentator
  • Trevor McKenzie-Smith, campaigner and electoral geographer
  • Gillian McEachern, environmental campaigner
  • Kevin Millsip, co-founder and director of Next Up
  • Tracey Mitchell, community-based facilitator, writer and activist  
  • Jason Mogus, digital strategist and campaigner
  • Bob Penner, pollster and leading research professional
  • Robin Sears, consultant, media commentator and former campaign manager

"They have experience as campaign managers, strategists, tacticians, communicators, innovators, pollsters, public servants, and much more," added Mitchell. "Their work on a variety of issues has made this country a better place, so we’re excited about sharing their expertise with a new generation of campaigners.”

The Broadbent Institute's first Leadership Fellows are also joined by five new Policy Fellows, who join an already impressive roster of leading academics and policy experts that help inform the Institute’s research and policy agenda.

The biographies of Leadership Fellows are available online at The full list of Policy Fellows is available at

From March 28-30 in Ottawa, the Broadbent Institute is holding its first annual Progress Summit. Learn more at The Institute is also holding a pre-summit Training and Leadership session in Ottawa with Mitch Stewart, founding partner of 270 Strategies and Battleground States Director for the Obama for America campaign in the 2012 presidential general election.

For more information, please contact:
Mike Fancie, Broadbent Institute
mfancie[at] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca or 613-866-3606