A big idea for Ontario's colleges and universities
Toronto Star, Aug 16, 2007

With 10 weeks to go before the provincial election, the campaign is still stuck on snooze. What Ontarians want right now is a little well-earned time in the hammock. Billions for transit, green energy or autos barely creates a stir. So to get things rolling, here's a simple, sweeping idea that would create a legacy for the next government, put higher education on the public agenda and really give people something to talk about. | More


Deciding democracy

Globe and Mail, August 2, 2007

Political sociologist Peter MacLeod says political polarities are being scrambled as Ontario ponders a fundamental decision: Stick with the current first-past-the-post voting system or switch to mixed member proportional? | More

Apocalypse not: It's just electoral reform
Globe and Mail, July 29, 2007

Okay. Time out. The campaign hasn't even begun and we need to blow the whistle. We're 11 weeks from a referendum that will decide whether Ontario adopts a new, more proportional way to elect provincial politicians. And while most people are tending their backyard barbecues or cooling their toes in the province's northern lakes, the language game has begun in the fight to define how the referendum debate will be portrayed. The big prize is "democracy. | More

Lighting on CN Tower could signal our progress
Toronto Star, May 31, 2007

Yesterday we learned that on July 1, the CN Tower will get a facelift. Quietly, for months now, engineers have been installing thousands upon thousands of super-bright LED lights inside the elevator shafts and upward to the top of the tower's mast. | More

Learning to Love the Citizens’ Assembly

Globe and Mail, January 23, 2007

Is the Family Compact alive and well in Ontario? It must be. It's the only way you can explain why the biggest democratic innovation in the province's recent history is getting such a drubbing from certain corners of the academy and the press. | More
Globe and Mail

Liberal Renewal Commission Task Force on Civic Engagement

January 10, 2007

As our eighteenth century political institutions struggle to maintain their legitimacy in the
twenty-first century, representative government has reached an important juncture. Neither
stronger leadership nor tighter, more sophisticated messaging will keep the system alive. We need a new set of concepts and strategies that can help urge us forwards. | More

Dion Plays the Gender Card, and It's a Good One

The Tyee.ca, July 14, 2006
The Liberal leadership race has just turned an important corner, and it's the progressives who are out in front. Wednesday's announcement by Stéphane Dion that he will pursue gender parity in both the Liberal party and in Parliament is the first substantial policy idea that merits discussion. Up until now, it has been all fuzz and bromides as the candidates have recycled the same middling language to cover the usual bases. | More

The Design Imperative, Convocation Address

Alberta College of Art and Design, May 18, 2006

And its here, in our shared concern for tomorrow, that our worlds – the political and the aesthetic -- start to converge, that the political significance of your choice to become a member of a creative profession meets up with the first question any democrat or thinking citizen must ask: what is my vision for the community of which I am a member? Is a better society possible? How might it be constituted? What might it achieve? | More

Representation and Recognition: Reflections along the Low Road to Democratic Reform

Queen's University School of Public Policy, April, 2006

Late last month, the centenary project of Britain’s Joseph Rowntree Foundation released the findings of an eighteenth month investigation into the state of British democracy. The project was called the Power Inquiry and it has enjoyed a status similar to our own Royal Commissions. A blue ribbon panel of experts was convened. They called witnesses, hosted consultations across the country and conducted comparative research. Their final report is fascinating because they systematically demolish the hoary myths of citizen engagement. | More


Rethinking Constituency Offices

Parliamentary Review, March, 2006

It’s an unusual feature of contemporary political life that members of parliament are expected to be in two places at once. Prior to the proliferation of cheap air travel, an MP could comfortably expect to spend a short winter session in Ottawa and return to their riding through the spring, summer and early fall. Parliamentary life was keyed to agricultural cycle. Today, like the modern election campaign, it’s keyed to the capacity of jetliners to cross time zones and the expectations of citizens to see their MP perform local duties as evidence that they haven’t yet lost touch.


The Low Road to Democratic Reform

Privy Council Office, March 2005
| Download report pdf

The 311 Effect

The Tyee.ca, December 7, 2005
Canadians know well that to reach emergency services, you dial 911. To reach directory assistance, you dial 411. And government services, concerning, say your library's local hours, property taxes, or a passport? Well, until recently, that's been a good deal more complicated, involving, as it does, running your thumb down columns of municipal, provincial and federal agencies listed in the blue pages. | More


Time to Join the Eurosphere

The Tyee.ca, October 2, 2005

The softwood lumber dispute is in its twenty-third year. Canadian free-traders and their opponents alike are hopping mad. Most everyone will acknowledge that the once-vaunted dispute mechanism is broken and short of a full out trade war, our options are few. "Hold up the oil," say some. "Just wait until they get thirsty," say others. It's hard not to think back to Trudeau's warnings about getting into bed with an elephant and his hope for a 'third way'. | More

Creative Security

The Risk Revolution, Creative Cities Summit Toronto, June 2005

I want to plant one idea with you – I want to give you a phrase to jot down and take away if you think it’s any good. We’ve been talking about creative risk. I want to talk about ‘creative security’. I’d like to see politicians in Canada talking about the need for Creative Security -- which might sound strange, because I don’t mean niftier forms of homeland defence or artistically-inclined police. I mean Creative Security in the way Americans once talked about Social Security – a set of programmes, institutions and guarantees that the state makes to its citizens – and I’d like to see in the upcoming federal election at least one party produce a Creative Security Agenda. And I’m going to spend the rest of my time explaining why. | More

Governance at the periphery or Learning from Lac St. Jean
Options Canada, January 27, 2005