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Recognizing Progress: Announcing Broadbent Institute 2023 Awards

Each year, in partnership with the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, and former MP and city councillor Olivia Chow, the Broadbent Institute has the honour of awarding the Jack Layton Progress Prize and Charles Taylor Prize for Excellence in Policy Research at the annual Progress Summit.

This year’s shortlist of Layton and Taylor Prize nominees represented an inspiring field of policy thinkers who have had a demonstrable impact on policy making, and activists who are organizing and achieving social change in Canada.

The Jack Layton Progress Prize

The Layton Prize is awarded annually to a Canadian individual or organization who has run a particularly noteworthy political or issue campaign, reflecting the ideals Jack Layton exemplified, including justice, sustainability and democracy. 

The recipients of this year’s Layton Prize are CUPE Education Workers.

The work that both CUPE Ontario and the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) took on in fighting back against the draconian anti-labour stance taken by Doug Ford has galvanized the labour movement across this country. Over the last two years, OSBCU has worked to organize its membership, to the point of being able to mobilize tens of thousands of its members, most of whom are women and Black, Indigenous and Racialized workers. Those workers walked off the job, in defiance of the Conservative governments back to work legislation.

CUPE Ontario, in creating and executing the Don't Be A Bully campaign, created an online and in person gathering space for hundreds of thousands of members of the public to be able to channel their anger against the provincial government's disregard of the charter. Together, this work was able to achieve a huge victory - getting Doug Ford to back down and repeal his anti-worker legislation.

In recognition of campaigning that galvanized solidarity in the labour movement and community organizing in Canada for the first time in a generation, CUPE Education Workers are the 2023 recipients of the Jack Layton Progress Prize.

Charles Taylor Prize for Excellence in Policy Research

The Taylor Prize is awarded annually to a researcher whose work has made an important contribution to policy debates relevant to building a more socially-just Canada. 

The recipient of this year’s Taylor Prize is Professor John Borrows.

Professor Borrows is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario. He earned BA and MA degrees in politics and history, and an LLB, LLM and PhD in Law. Before his appointment at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, he held the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law, where he co-founded the world’s first dual degree program in Indigenous and common law.

Professor Borrows has also had a transformative impact on public policy in Canada. He was a Research Advisor for the ground-breaking Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and ‘ghost’ wrote sections of three chapters in the Final Reports. Retired Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC, has stated that Professor Borrows “had a real impact on our deliberations within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. Professor Borrows wrote the 2004 Treaty Justice Report for the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan, and the research paper that guided the final 2005 Ipperwash Inquiry Report for the Government of Ontario, as well as other government sponsored reports. His academic work has been cited 32 times by Human Rights bodies and various courts, including the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Supreme Court of Canada.

He has worked tirelessly on realizing the Calls to Action of the TRC, particularly related to law societies and legal education. Professor Borrows’ extraordinary work on revitalizing Indigenous law has further contributed to a re-envisioning of the potential of law and participatory democracy. His commitment to advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada has been unwavering. He has led the revitalization of Indigenous law and legal traditions in Canada. Beyond his contribution to Indigenous law, his focus on participation and engagement holds lessons for all those who value democracy and justice.

Ellen Meiksins Wood Lecture and Award

Established by the Broadbent Institute in 2017 in honour of a distinguished author and academic, the Ellen Meiksins Wood Lecture is given annually by the recipient of the Award who is an academic, labour activist or writer recognized for outstanding contributions in political theory, social or economic thought, history, human rights, and sociology. It acknowledges Ellen’s legacy of work on the history of political thought and her deep commitment to democracy.

Awardees are chosen for work that is emblematic of Ellen’s two-fold belief that democracy is always fought for and secured from below, not conferred from above; and, that the egalitarian values of democracy are in ongoing conflict with the unequal outcomes of capitalism.

The recipient of this year’s Wood Award is Armine Yalnizyan, for her historic leadership as “one of Canada’s most important economists” and in recognition of her vital work for progressive social change across Canada. Her demonstrated work on inequality embodies the values of Wood’s legacy.

Stay tuned for more details of the upcoming Ellen Meiksins Wood Lecture to be delivered at Toronto Metropolitan University in May 2023.

The awards were announced at the 2023 Progress Summit, on March 10th in Ottawa.

Watch the full Progress Summit livestream awards presentation.