PPGR Volume 5, Issue 2 is published!

Volume 5, Issue 2 (2014) PPGR 2

It is with exceptional pride that we, your Editors-in-Chief, present the final edition of the Public Policy and Governance Review for the 2013-2014 academic year. This edition features a wealth of outstanding writing from some of Canada’s brightest and most engaged graduate students.

For a link to the full publication, in high resolution (5 MB), please click here: Full Publication



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Seen and Heard: Women in House Event in Ottawa

women in house 2014

Claudia Wong

An annual event at Parliament Hill, Women in House provides an opportunity for university students to gain an inside look into the lives of female politicians in the Canadian federal government. The program, which is hosted by many universities across Canada, aims to foster among women a desire for political involvement in and enthusiasm for Canadian politics, while highlighting the successes of women who have broken down gender barriers to enter political life. In early March, the School of Public Policy and Governance sent a delegation of 10 women to represent the University of Toronto alongside 20 undergraduate students on a two-day trip to Ottawa. Delegates toured the Supreme Court of Canada, then met and mingled with female senators and Members of Parliament at a reception hosted by Dr. Carolyn Bennett (MP, St. Paul’s) on the night of their arrival. The following morning, delegates met with their hosts Senators or MPs and spent the day with them, concluding the experience by attending question period.

Overall, the experience was extremely positive for the SPPG women who participated in the program. Many found their host politicians to be inspiring and determined women working in a male-dominated, highly politicized environment. For some, Women in House reaffirmed the decision to study public policy instead of working in the political arena, and for others, the experience opened up the possibility of making change as a politician. 

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The People’s Network in an Era of ‘Content on Demand’

web-massey-commissionThis year’s Walter Gordon Symposium was co-hosted by Massey College and the School of Public Policy and Governance, and explored the oft-overlooked subject of public policy in the arts. To celebrate the event held on the 26-27 of March we will continue to feature contributor writing on the subject of the importance of cultural policy in Canada.

Grant Bishop

In Barney’s Version, Mordecai Richler’s satirical ode to our “cloud-cuckoo-land” of a nation (“an insufferably rich country governed by idiots, its self-made problems offering comic relief to the ills of the real world out there”), the author reserves his most cutting jabs for the Canadian cultural establishment and all of its hangers-on.  Through Richler’s mouthpiece of the tragicomic Barney Panofsky, who sustains a fortune on producing lackadaisically mediocre CanCon, the CBC is made particular fodder: “Charged with virtue, those intellectual mice from the People’s Network tended to condescend to me as a money-grubbing TV shlock-meister, even as they protected us from the cultural vandals to the south.” Irony awaited.

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Weakening the CBC Means Weakening Our Society

web-massey-commissionThis year’s Walter Gordon Symposium was co-hosted by Massey College and the School of Public Policy and Governance, and explored the oft-overlooked subject of public policy in the arts. To celebrate the event held on the 26-27 of March we will continue to feature writing on the subject of the importance of cultural policy in Canada.

Brent Jolly

As a child growing up in the shadow of the big city of Toronto, it might sound slightly disingenuous, even somewhat contrite, for me to speak of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as a common thread that weaves together the rich, diverse tapestry of the Canadian experience. However, in a time when Canadian political discourse overtly seeks to exploit national solitudes through various wedge issues, competing identities, and threats to national cohesion, I believe that Canada’s public broadcaster has an increasingly invaluable role to play in uniting communities from coast to coast to coast.

Historically, the CBC has been entrusted with fulfilling two primary political objectives. Their first task is the implantation of the values of good citizenship and advocating the notions of popular sovereignty. The second function is the production and dissemination of news, opinion, and debate that is fundamental to the proper functioning of democratic government. Throughout the 20th century, the CBC served these objectives honourably, while acting as a framework for the building of national unity in spite of the nation’s vast geographic limitations.


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Seen and Heard: SPPG’s Gender & Public Policy Workshop Tackles Gender-Based Violence

Margaret Campbell

The discussion on gender and policy continued last week at the School of Public Policy and Governance with the third workshop in the Gender & Public Policy series, a student-led initiative that has explored issues relating to women’s leadership, pay equity, and gender analysis in policy making over the past year. Titled “Gender-Based Violence: Policy Responses and Prevention,” last Thursday’s workshop featured a panel of speakers including Todd Minerson (Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign), Krittika Ghosh (Senior Coordinator, Violence Against Women, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants) and Dr. Ramona Alaggia (Factor-Inwetash Chair in Children’s Mental Health, University of Toronto).

In 2011, police data found that 1,207 out of every 100,000 women aged 15 and older were victims of a violent crime, a number 5% higher than the rate of violence against men. Actually quantifying gender-based violence, however, is challenging, as police reports of violence against women only represent a fraction of incidents. As Minerson explained in his presentation, roughly 80% of sexual assaults against women go unreported.

Statistic Canada’s 1993 Violence Against Women Survey, although out of date, provides a more complete picture of the situation, with half of Canadian women reporting at least one incident of sexual or physical violence since the age of 16. As Ghosh explained during the Workshop, the lack of frequent, provincial data collection is problematic because it means policy makers are unable to measure the effect of preventative policies.

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Waste Not, Want Not: Ensuring the Future of Food Security


Denna Berg

Food production is extensive. It requires large portions of land and high levels of water, energy, pesticide, fertilizer, and soil. It’s a major contributor to the economy, but is also rather tricky, as it relies on the least controllable input–the weather. Agricultural regions are now facing even greater challenges due to sporadic shifts caused by climate change. The realities of climate change are increasingly evident as it is beginning to seriously impact global food security and consumer choice. 

Napa Valley, California, is currently facing a historic drought, which is predicted to reduce this season’s yield of grapes. The region primarily relies on rainwater and underground aquifers to irrigate crops. If late winter or spring precipitation does not occur, the aquifer levels will decline, resulting in a smaller crop for 2014. 

Jennifer Putnam, the executive director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers, recently told the National Post that it is too early to tell if the extended dry season will impact the prices of Napa wine, as the rains could still come. But she acknowledges the adjustment farmers have had to make this season in order to maximize their yields. Farmers have reported that vines are ripening early and have had to become more conservative with their irrigation. They also have had to strategically plant less than usual due to the circumstances. Usually vineyards grow smaller plants in between the vines to reduce the threats of erosion; however, this practice was not done this for this season. 

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The CBC: A part of home

web-massey-commissionThis year’s Walter Gordon Symposium is co-hosted by Massey College and the School of Public Policy and Governance, and explores the oft-overlooked subject of public policy in the arts. In the week leading up to the March 26-27 event, the PPGR will be featuring writing on the subject of the arts, cultural policy, and the ‘soft’ power of civilizations.

Jesse Kancir

In the simplest division of my life there are two categories: CBC and post-CBC.  Between the two is the decisive point when I started my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo and left behind a small village of 300 people in Northern Ontario. My experience growing up in a small Franco-Ontarian village was influenced intensely by my interaction with CBC Radio, and I have not experienced that same relationship since moving away. Jody Porter already made clear the importance of CBC to small communities in her post earlier this week. To that view, I wanted to provide a perspective on the reversal of her situation: as an individual starting off with the CBC and then moving away from it, and the consequences this exposure has had on my upbringing in a rural Northern community.

I was raised in the small village of Val-Rita near Kapuskasing on the TransCanada Highway. I have three distinct memories of the two decades that I spent there as a child and adolescent: snow (which I have seen in every month of the year), my father’s persistent desire for my siblings and I to dedicate ourselves to our education, and CBC Radio.

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