Broadbent Institute and Douglas-Coldwell Foundation launch reflection on status of social democracy in Canada



OTTAWA — The Broadbent Institute and the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation are partnering to convene a national discussion on social democracy in Canada, on the occasion of our nation’s 150th birthday in 2017.

As the country looks to this milestone, Canadians will be reminded of the role played by the thought and practice of social democracy in fashioning much of what generations have held most dear about Canada, whether it is public health care, protection of workers’ rights, or a generous system of social provision.

“Social democracy transformed daily life in Canada and most other advanced economies in the 20th century, as governments delivered virtually full employment, rising wages and access to social programs and public services. The result was much greater equality of both condition and opportunity, enhanced security for all, and broadly shared economic progress in a still market based economy,” said Ed Broadbent, Chair of the Broadbent Institute.

“As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, it is vitally important to reflect on this historical experience, and to re-examine the intellectual sources of social democratic achievement. An important first step is to take a closer look at Canada’s rich progressive traditions and their significant accomplishments for Canadians,” stated Karl Bélanger, President of the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation.

The initiative is being launched with the publication of a discussion paper, Reflections on the Social Democratic Tradition by the Broadbent Institute’s Senior Policy Advisor, Andrew Jackson. The paper, available here, provides a political history, overview and critical evaluation of the social democratic project in Western politics - and in Canada in particular - in this moment of upheaval, inequality and decline in democracies around the globe.

Since the 1980s, the market-restricting structures of social democracy have been under attack. As David Frum has pointed out, in launching this attack Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan deliberately set out to destroy social democracy.

“The result,” said Mr. Broadbent, “has been an increase in environmental degradation, the financial crisis of 2008 and especially the alarming increase in inequality - culminating in the rise of right-wing populism.”

Reflections on the Social Democratic Tradition will set the stage for the Broadbent Institute’s project Change the Game – an in-depth reflection on not only what history teaches us, but on what might constitute genuinely progressive policy advocacy in the months and years ahead.


For more information please contact:
Willy Blomme, Program Director at the Broadbent Institute 
[email protected] (514) 699-4636

Karl Bélanger, President of the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation
[email protected] (613) 232-1918