Blog: So you want to build a progressive movement in Canada…
May 17, 2013
Last November, Larry Summers opened his talk at our packed Canada 2020 event, by saying that think tanks, such as Canada 2020, were vital to the political process. In his view, much of the North American political discourse is the result of a carefully placed op-ed, or a strategically researched issue brief from a think tank.
We were delighted to hear this. But we were also mindful that Dr. Summers was speaking from a U.S. perspective: think tanks do indeed play a crucial role in shaping the policy agenda in Washington. Our long-time U.S. associate, The Center for American Progress (CAP), was seen by many as a government-in-waiting during the Bush years. This was not far from the truth as many staff – including Melody Barnes whom we will host at our health event next week – and even more ideas made their way from CAP to the Obama Whitehouse. What John Podesta has built in the past ten years, and the impact that CAP has had on the U.S. policy agenda, is nothing short of extraordinary.
In Canada think tanks have generally been thin on the ground, and typically associated with specific political parties. This remains true today.
We launched Canada 2020 in 2006 because we wanted a space for progressives of all stripes to meet, discuss, and share ideas in an environment that was free of the partisan mentality of old. For seven years we have been hard at work building out that space with our sold-out free events, online engagement, conferences, debates, research briefs and yes, carefully placed op-eds. We’re proud of the work we have done and the voices and ideas that we have featured: we have never had more momentum than we do now.
Other organizations are now beginning to join us. That’s a good thing – we welcome these additions to the conversation. But as the progressive movement grows, it becomes increasingly important to carve out a unique vision, and a substantive offering.
This is what we have been doing in our marquee project, The Canada We Want in 2020. We identified five areas in which the federal government can and should play a more progressive, strategic role: reducing income inequality, increasing innovation and productivity, rising to meet the Asia challenge, securing our health system for the future, and squaring the carbon circle.
In each of these areas we have fueled new thinking, and engaged different voices in our effort to build a more progressive Canada for 2020 and beyond.
Ultimately, we at Canada 2020 believe that governing is about making choices. Sometimes, and ideally, the choices that governments make are strategic – the product of hard thinking to address major hurdles which coalesce at a particular point in time.
We believe that Canada is at such a point in time today – and that Canada 2020 is playing an important role in driving a discussion about the role of the federal government in Canada.
A serious public policy strategy for the country means doing less of some things, while focusing decisively and aggressively on a few important things. This requires in-depth analysis of the really big challenges and opportunities facing the country. It requires governments to be straight with Canadians about the risks and rewards that lie ahead, so that citizens will buy into a clear direction set by government.
The basic orientation of Canada 2020 is that the federal government has a vitally important role to play in developing and implementing strategic policies, focusing governments and other institutions in society on the big challenges the country faces, and mobilizing consensus for action. In other words, we believe that the federal government can be a force for significant and positive change.
This does not necessarily mean big government. But it does mean intelligent, innovative, analytical and strategic government. It could conceivably result in smaller government, focused on a few big and important areas of public policy that really matter to the Canada’s future.
Canada 2020 is very proud of what we have achieved in our first seven years and we look forward to continuing to build a progressive community around our shared interest.
Opinion: Why the US and Europe must stand together
President Obama’s trip to Europe is an opportunity to build on the vision he outlined in his West Point speech last week, and to set out a plan to renew the transatlantic relationship. This backbone of an alliance of liberal democracies across the globe, and the foundation of the post-war order, faces fresh challenges today. Over the past few years, though, this alliance has suffered from neglect which is troubling, as the inexorable triumph of liberal democracy is not inevitable – it requires constant work and vigilance.
Global Progress: Making Progressive Politics Work
“Making Progressive Politics Work: A Handbook of Ideas” is a collection of essays from the organizations and thinkers that are a part of Global Progress, an international exchange of ideas that will fuel the creation and implementation of progressive policies around the world. The handbook, organized and published by the U.K.-based Policy Network. Divided into two sections – Future Wealth Creation, and Jobs, Wages and Skills of the Future – the publication is required reading for Canadian progressives.
Analysis: Who is Matteo Renzi?
At just 39 years of age, Matteo Renzi became Italy’s youngest-ever prime minister in late February. The dramatic events that led to this meteoric rise are nothing new for Renzi. Over the course of his relatively short political career, the former lawyer and regional counselor earned the nickname “il Rottomatore”—meaning “the bulldozer” or “the demolition man”—thanks to his reputation for taking on the establishment and pushing through political reforms.
Opinion: It’s not unemployment, it’s underemployment
As short as 20 years ago, our combined attainment of education, work experience, and connections would place many young Canadians on a secure career track that would allow us to pay back our loans, save for a house, and contribute to the overall productivity of this great country. Today, that’s more or less not the case, and an increasing number of young Canadians are caught in a veritable limbo state of underemployment.
August 15, 2013
Summer Reading: 10 infographics you should see
We love infographics at Canada 2020 – and there’s no better time to browse and read them then over the long summer office hours.
Here’s 10 online features from The Guardian, The Economic Policy Institute, The White House and more than you should catch up on. Topics include tracking and comparing national carbon outputs, measuring exactly how inequality is rising in North America and answering what makes Canadians sick.