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Introducing the Jack Layton and Charles Taylor Awards


Every day across this vast country of ours, groups of people get organized and work together to make their neighbourhood, city, province and nation a better place.

Often invisible and unheralded, these efforts are actually the wellspring of social progress.  As anthropologist Margaret Mead notes in her well-loved quotation, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”  

The group striving to establish a park along a threatened river; the young person driven to run for public office for the first time out of a desire to contribute to their community; people working together across the country to raise the minimum wage. Whether these campaigns are election-related, or focused on a specific issue, these efforts inspire us all and help build an improved country. 

There are really two sides to a winning campaign: the politics and the policy. Any vision for change needs to be built on a compelling idea and the supporting facts and arguments: a clear prescription for doing things better. And every successful campaign also needs a well-planned political strategy incorporating the best in organizing and communications. 

Both these elements are important. Unless you get your policy (or your idea) right, nobody will get excited enough to pay attention; and in the absence of a well-designed political strategy, no campaign can gain public traction simply by dint of making a policy argument, no matter how eloquent and brilliant (unfortunately, a common conceit of the left).

In order to recognize excellence in both the policy and politics of progressive campaigning, the Broadbent Institute is excited to announce the establishment – at Progress Summit 2015 - of two high-profile annual awards.  The Jack Layton Progress Prize, created in partnership with Olivia Chow, will recognize the person or organization that has created and fielded an exceptional and successful campaign for progressive change. 

The Charles Taylor Prize for Excellence in Policy Research – awarded in its inaugural year to Charles Taylor himself, and other worthy recipients in subsequent years – will recognize the person or organization that has advanced an exciting and innovative policy solution aimed at making Canada a more equal, sustainable and democratic country.

If the Canadian music world gets its Junos and Felixs and the film and television industry revels in its Canadian Screen Awards and Jutras, we figure the critical enterprise of progressive campaigning and ideas-generation deserve their moment in the sun too. The Layton and Taylor Prizes will acknowledge the bravery, imagination and tenacity of Canadians who put it all on the line in service of building a better Canada.

Through the launch of the Layton and Taylor awards, the Broadbent Institute salutes and celebrates these efforts – and hopes to contribute, in a small way, to the furthering of our mission to honour the past and enable the future successes of the Canadian progressive movement.