Role of public intellectuals in shaping Canada to be debated at York U’s Glendon College


TORONTO, October 21, 2014 – How can we empower citizens and invigorate public debate on the future of Canada?

A group of thought leaders will come together to discuss the role of public intellectuals and scholars in shaping Canada at a one-day conference, “Fiddling while Rome burns? A Conference on Public Intellectuals and the Future of Canada”, at York U’s Glendon College on October 23.


  • Paul Wells, Political Editor, Maclean’s and Andrew Potter, Managing Editor, Ottawa Citizen, will debate the democratic role played by the media.
  • Morris Rosenberg, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and current President and CEO of the Trudeau Foundation, will moderate a discussion with Marc Lesage, Professor, Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, Peter MacLeod, Director, Wellesley Institute for Urban Health, Hilary Pearson, President, Philanthropic Foundations Canada, and Jodi White, President, Sydney House Consultants.
  • Political ethics expert Paul Saurette, Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, will lead a conversation with Tom Flanagan, Distinguished Fellow, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary and former advisor to Prime Minister Harper, Danielle Martin, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions, Women’s College Hospital (who recently defended public healthcare before a U.S. Senate Committee) and Armine Yalnizyan Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
  • Celebrated author and philosopher Joseph Heath, Professor, Department of Philosophy and the School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, will also give a keynote on the next generation of public intellectuals in Canada.


“In an era where spin and attack ads trump substance in our political discourse, the ability of public intellectuals to expand our political imagination, to integrate knowledge, and to bridge thinking and practice is arguably of increasing importance” says Alex Himelfarb, Director of the Centre for Global Challenges.


The conference will be bilingual and simultaneous interpretation will be provided.


WHAT: Fiddling while Rome burns? A Conference on Public Intellectuals and the Future of Canada|
 For complete program, click here.
WHERE: Centre of Excellence, York University’s Glendon College at 2275, Bayview Avenue (see map)
WHEN: Thursday, October 23, 2014, 10:00am to 4:00pm

Read speaker bios here.

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York U’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre, York U is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York U’s 11 faculties and 28 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 288 leading universities worldwide. York U's community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 250,000 alumni.

The Glendon School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) is Canada's first bilingual graduate school of public and international affairs.  A unique Canadian institution, it combines a comprehensive bilingualism with a focus on both public and international affairs, seeking to explore the interplay between domestic and global issues.  Adopting a global perspective, the School explores the relationship between public institutions and their larger environment.  Its purpose is to advance research on public and international affairs; provide high-quality graduate programming; and offer innovative professional development programming.  A fully bilingual master's program features internships and international exchange experiences.  The School is located on Glendon's picturesque campus in mid-town Toronto.

The Centre for Global Challenges (CGC) is a public policy forum associated with the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs. The CGC promotes public discussion of key issues. It brings together thought leaders – practitioners and scholars, policy makers and researchers – to explore the Canadian implications of key challenges. Such issues include: harnessing the global economy; adapting health and social architecture for the knowledge economy and the new demography; accommodating religion, diversity and common citizenship; and improving public institutions. See:

Media Contacts:
Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22094,
Marie-Thérèse Chaput, Director of Advancement, Alumni and External Relations, 416 487 6801,