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

Progressives gather in Ottawa to discuss economy, strategy

OTTAWA—Leading thinkers in Canada will be meeting in Ottawa this week for a summit where they will map a path to a fair, sustainable and prosperous Canadian economy. The Broadbent Institute’s first annual Progress Summit will be held Friday, March 28 to Sunday, March 30 at the Delta Ottawa.

Speakers include:

  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia Mariana Mazzucato, author of "The Entrepreneurial State" 
  • Anastasia Khoo, Marketing Director, Human Rights Campaign 
  • Axelle Lemaire, Quebec-born French National Assemblywoman for Northern Europe 
  • Ed Broadbent, Chair, Broadbent Institute 
  • Don Drummond, professor at Queen’s University and Canadian economist 
  • Alex Himelfarb, former Privy Council Clerk 
  • Mitch Stewart, 270 Strategies Founding Partner and Battleground States Director for the 2012 Obama for America campaign 

Media are encouraged to accredit in advance:

A full schedule of speakers is available online:

For more information and to book interviews in advance, please contact:

Caitlin Kealey 
ckealey [at] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca  or 613-818-7956

Work in progress: millennial anxiety reaches across generations

Jessica Barrett / Calgary Herald

When I first conceived of my year-long project on the working world for the Calgary Herald’s Michelle Lang Fellowship, I have to admit, most of my proposal was based on a hunch. Through straw polls, coffee banter with friends and colleagues, discussions with my own parents and, of course, my own experience in the job market, I was fairly certain I wasn’t the only one gazing at an uncertain economic future with some apprehension.

To back up my pitch, I assembled a smattering of news stories pointing out the dismal projections for younger workers, growing income inequality, boomers delaying retirement and the like.

But when it came to my thesis – namely that the working world is changing and we’re not feeling all that great about it – there was very little evidence out there to prove that I wasn’t just butting up against the walls of my own little bubble.

Turns out the folks at the Broadbent Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, felt the same. In response to the same dinnertime conversation I was picking up on, they decided to commission a poll to determine just how widespread concern over job prospects and economic futures for younger workers is.

The results, published today, show anxiety over the changing face of work, and all the social challenges it implies, runs deep across the generations.

The poll surveyed 1,064 boomers aged 50-65 and 983 millennials aged 20-30 about their experiences in the work force and sheds some much-needed light on how Canadians are feeling about the economy. The figures were weighted to reflect census data on population age, gender, education and region.

So, what do the numbers say? Many boomers and millennials are anxious about the younger generation’s job prospects, homeownership potential and ability to fund social programs through taxes.

Interestingly, boomer parents seem to be more pessimistic about their children’s future than millennials are about their own prospects. Nearly half of boomers, 49 per cent, feel their kids are facing a poorer future than they had, while 34 per cent of millennials feel they are worse off than their parents.

But at the same time, millennials know they are facing a working life with fewer guarantees. More than half anticipated a career where contract work played a role, compared to 14 per cent of boomers who said they faced the same instability in their own careers. Meanwhile, only a third of millennials were confident they’d own their homes at retirement, compared to more than half of boomers, and one in five millennials say they don’t know anyone with an employer-funded pension.

Rick Smith, executive director of the Broadbent Institute, said he wasn’t surprised to find a high level of angst across age cohorts, but he didn’t anticipate seeing so much agreement between the generations on possible causes of economic instability. A significant majority of both generations expressed a high level of distrust for corporations, he noted, with both blaming irresponsible corporate behaviour for bringing on the 2008 financial crisis.

“Our starting point was very similar to yours: is this our imagination or not?” Smith said in an interview Monday.

“If you were to rank likely topics of dinner-time conversation in Canada these days, youth unemployment is high on that list. These numbers bear out that anecdotal experience.”

Smith said the results of the poll will be used to inform policy recommendations coming out of a summit the institute is holding later this month in Ottawa.

Here are some other highlights from the survey (which you can read here). I’m interested to know if you agree, send me an email or leave a comment below and let me know how you’re feeling about your work prospects.

  • Just over half, 52 per cent, of millennials expect contract work to make up a significant part of their working lives, either alone or in conjunction with permanent jobs. In contrast, 14 per cent of boomers said their work lives relied on contract work;
  • 39 per cent of millennials anticipate a career comprised of permanent jobs, compared to 66 per cent of boomers who experienced permanent employment;
  • Millennials with university degrees were more likely to anticipate a career encompassing contract work than those with high school or college education;
  • 70 per cent of millennials and 78 per cent of boomers cite irresponsible business behaviour as the cause of the 2008 recession;
  • 60 per cent of millennials anticipate the gap between rich and poor to grow during their lifetime;
  • 55 per cent of millennials and 59 per cent of boomers say declining enrolment in unions has made good jobs harder to find;
  • 48 per cent of millennials and 60 per cent of boomers say reduced corporate tax rates have not resulted in more investment in creating jobs in Canada.

The poll does not provide a margin of error because it is not a random, probability-based sample.


Parents, youth agree: the economic road ahead is rocky

Survey highlights millennials’ fears and boomers’ worries about precarious work

OTTAWA—In an innovative survey of both millennials and boomer parents, a poll asked two generations their thoughts about their economic future and the policies affecting it. Both young people in the workforce and their parents expressed deep unease about a future of precarious, low-benefit work. 

The poll, conducted by Abacus Data for the Broadbent Institute, shows only a minority in both groups believe the economic opportunities of young people will be better than the boomer generation. And a majority of millennials and boomers don’t trust corporations to create good jobs in Canada, even as governments enact policies businesses want.

“Without a change in direction, Canada won’t see one generation leaving things better for the next,” said Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute. “Young people think income inequality will grow in their lifetime, while their parents worry about how the social programs they’ll need in retirement will be paid for.”

The poll’s key findings:

  • There are four times as many millennials who think they will face contract work than what baby boomers report they faced in their life.
  • Boomers are more likely to think their children will slip in economic class than are millennials when asked about their future economic status; and about half (49%) of boomers believe economic opportunities are worse for their children than when they were their children's age.
  • Only a small minority of millennials (21%) and boomers (15%) believe corporations will work harder to make sure good jobs are created in Canada; large majorities in both groups believe corporations will concentrate more on their profits, even if good jobs aren’t created.
  • Millennials are three times as likely to think income inequality will grow than narrow in their lifetime. 
  • A majority of boomers fear their children’s generation won’t be able to pay for social programs they will need in retirement.

"These findings show people are skeptical that corporations will create good jobs in Canada. They believe most people will be worse off if the government continues to withdraw and turns to individuals to make up the difference,” said Smith. “The survey is a wake-up call about the need for a new deal for today’s youth.”

The Abacus Data survey surveyed 983 Canadians aged 20-30 in the job market — millennials — and 1,064 people aged 50-65 — baby boomers — with at least one child aged 20 or older. The online survey was completed from February 6-10, 2014.

The full report is available at

From March 28-30 in Ottawa, the Broadbent Institute will hold its first annual Progress Summit  a high-profile event that will bring together an exciting group of policy experts from across Canada and around the world. The issue of youth unemployment will be top of the agenda for this event. Learn more at


For more information, please contact:

Mike Fancie, Broadbent Institute
613-866-3606 or mfancie [at ] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca