School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies


Tom and Teresa Courchene's new publicationPreserving Canadian democracy

Experts in the School of Policy Studies are investigating the pandemic’s impact on government in a new op-ed series being published in the Ottawa Citizen. It will explore topics such as democracy, executive accountability, public services, and government debt and is authored by members of the School's Working Group on Governance (GWG). 

Read the article in the Queen's Gazette


Tom and Teresa Courchene's new publicationHow Equalization Failed Alberta in its Time of Need and How to Fix It

In a joint report between the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (IIGR) in the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University and MacDonald Laurier Institute (MLI) titled “Fiscal Fairness: How Equalization Failed Alberta in its Time of Need and How to Fix It,” authors Thomas J. Courchene and Teresa M. Courchene examine the problems inherent in the current equalization formula and the solutions that are on the table to correct the imbalance facing Alberta.

Read the full publication here.


Donner Prize Winner [image]Queen's Economist wins second Donner Prize

Award for book on Indigenous rights makes Thomas J. Courchene the first two-time recipient of top Canadian public policy writing honour. The School of Policy Studies and the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (IIGR) are happy to announce that Tom Courchene's latest publication, “Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens”, has just won the 2018/2019 Donner Prize.   

Read the full article here.

Warren Mabee[image]Revitalizing Policy Studies

December 12, 2018
Queen's Gazette

Principal Daniel Woolf announces plans to elevate the School of Policy Studies by drawing on expertise across many faculties.

The School of Policy Studies is about to begin a new chapter in its long and impressive history. Principal Daniel Woolf has announced a new associate dean and director (Policy Studies) for the school, as well as a new model that will allow the school to leverage faculty expertise from many more areas of the university.

Warren Mabee will become the school’s associate dean and director (Policy Studies), starting on July 1, 2019, succeeding Dr. David Walker who has been in the role of interim executive director since July 2016. A respected researcher, Dr. Mabee is currently a professor and head of the Department of Geography and Planning, a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, and director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.

Dr. Mabee’s appointment is the latest in a series of important announcements about the School of Policy Studies this year. In February, the Principal’s Commission on the Future of Public Policy at Queen’s University delivered its final report, An Ambitious Vision for Public Policy at Queen’s. Shortly after, an implementation and transition working group was appointed to identify next steps for the report’s top recommendations.

“For generations, Queen’s University has been an important driver of public policy in this country, both through our research and through our talented graduates taking up leadership positions in the public service, as well as in the private and not-for-profit sectors,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “The changes we are announcing will set the school up for future success by elevating public policy to a pan-university priority that incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach to public policy research.”

To help facilitate this new approach, the School of Policy Studies will now become part of the Faculty of Arts and Science. From this new base, it will be able to regularly draw on a wider range of faculty expertise. Queen’s has international research and academic leadership spread throughout its faculties of Arts and Science, Business, Engineering and Applied Science, Health Sciences, and Education. This new initiative will set the school up to become a national leader by enabling it to leverage this deep expertise across multiple fields of endeavor.

The school will also be setting up an internal and an external advisory board to help identify priorities and future opportunities.

Principal Woolf also announced the university will be providing funding to cover operating costs to support the school during this transition period and to support the development and advancement of new programs over the coming years.

“Public policy is arguably more important now than it has ever been, with governments in Canada and around the world facing challenges that are dynamic, incredibly complex, and often global in scope,” says Dr. Mabee. “With the support and guidance of the new advisory boards, the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s will be aiming to develop a new model that will allow us to begin consistently leveraging the world-class expertise available across Queen’s, including such areas as economics, business, engineering, biology, and health sciences.”

This new focus on cross-faculty collaboration will set the school up to carry out leading research in such important and pressing areas as indigenous reconciliation, climate change, the impact of technological change, refugee movements, and shifting demographics, to name just a few.

Currently, the School of Policy Studies offers two programs – a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a Professional Master of Public Administration (PMPA). Each are staffed by leading faculty and distinguished public policy practitioners.

Bob Watts [image]The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) announces new Chief of Staff for the office of the National Chief, Perry Bellegarde.

Saturday November 24, 2018

Bob Watts, has just been announced as the new Chief of Staff to AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde.

Robert (Bob) Watts has held the position as the CEO of the Assembly of First Nations and also has experience being a former Chief of Staff. Mr. Watts has held a number of notable positions, including Interim Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and served as an Assistant Deputy Minister within the Government of Canada. He was an integral member of the team that negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Mr. Watts graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was a Fellow at the Harvard Law School. Mr. Watts is a Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University. He also serves as Vice President, Indigenous Relations, at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Mr. Watts is of Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry and resides at Six Nations Reserve.

Mr. Watts brings extensive experience with First Nations organizations, he is aware of First Nation issues, and we are excited to have him join our team. He will be providing my office with strategic political advice and will be building relationships with the AFN Executive Committee and First Nation leaders, Elders and citizens. Mr. Watts will also be in charge of maintaining contact with the relevant national, regional and community organizations and governments to advance and advocate for AFN priorities.

Keith Banting [image]Distinguished Service Awards to honour six members of the Queen’s community

Thursday November 1, 2018

Professor Emeritus Keith Banting (Arts’69) has served the university for more than 30 years as a teacher, renowned scholar, and administrator. He helped put the School of Policy Studies at the forefront of policy-driven research during his 10-year term as the school’s director. He is the author/editor of 20 books, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on multiculturalism, federalism, and social policy.

Read the article in the Queen's Gazette 

Drummond Commentary [image]A Five-Step Program to Address Ontario's Fiscal Ills

Friday August 31, 2018

The economic and fiscal imperatives of addressing Ontario’s unsustainable financial situation are clear.  Once the province’s accounting has been shifted to the base recommended by the Auditor General of Ontario, Ontarians will see that the there was no return to budget balance and deficits are poised to increase.  Worse, the province’s debt burden will likely also rise from its already lofty level.  From a net debt-to-GDP ratio of 26 per cent prior to the financial crisis and recession, the debt burden is projected to soar to over 45 per cent by 2025-26 in the Spring 2018 “status quo” projection of the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.  This would repeat a prominent and disturbing pattern of Ontario’s debt burden rising each time there is an economic downturn and then never returning to its prior level. 

Here we will add a “political” dimension to the fiscal situation.  With the Conservative Government having just assumed power in Ontario, it may seem premature to think of their prospects of re-election in four years.  But the Conservative Party is no doubt thinking hard about what needs to be accomplished to maximize prospects.  They should be mindful that poor fiscal performance has left political hope on the shoals for many governments in Canada and around the world.  Rightly or wrongly, the litmus test of fiscal performance is balancing the budget.  Politicians are in a sense fortunate that the political test is not the more onerous one of reducing the debt burden because that in all likelihood will require a string of budget surpluses.  Yet despite the political test being well established, governments have a tendency to mire their jurisdictions in deficit.  Governments often further sour their political fortunes by consistently failing to hit their own fiscal targets. 

Read the full article by Don Drummond [PDF 164KB]


Drummond Commentary [image]Dear Premier-designate Ford

Monday June 11, 2018

Congratulations on your majority win in the June 7th election.

Your acceptance speech was inspiring. Improving the well-being of Ontarians and making the Ontario economy a tower of strength are aspirations everyone can get behind.

Now you face the daunting task of leading the Province to secure these objectives in the context of the numerous challenges you and your Party have inherited.

Fiscal Situation You have wisely identified addressing Ontario’s fiscal disorder as your Government’s first priority. You will need to assess the fiscal situation of the Ontario Government and evaluate what that will mean for the plans you laid out during the election campaign.

The fiscal picture is not pretty.

The Liberals were crawling out of their large deficits, only to propose plunging the province back into a sea of red ink. But even without implementing any of the Liberal’s proposals since the reasonably responsible 2017 budget - initiatives that add up to about $6 billion a year – the fiscal books would still be out of balance. A chief concern is the 37 per cent net debt-to-GDP ratio. This compares to 26 per cent prior to the financial crisis and recession. It is even above the debt burden of the 1990s when the Conservative Government of the day accepted that Ontario was in fiscal crisis and took strong action. Left to anything resembling the status quo, there will be large deficits over a protracted period and the debt burden will rise further.

This would of course be unacceptable to everybody, including your Government.

Read the full article by Don Drummond [PDF 164KB]

Drummond Commentary [image]Fiscal Policy and Party Politics

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

“Who Will Stand Up for Fiscal Discipline in Ontario?” asks Don Drummond, the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow at Queen’s School of Policy Studies, in an op-ed that looks at the fiscal policy platforms of three major political parties vying for support in the province’s election on June 7th.

Don is well-qualified to answer this question. As a former associate deputy minister in Finance Canada, Don was responsible for economic analysis, fiscal policy, tax policy, social policy and federal-provincial relations and coordinated the planning of the annual federal budgets. He was subsequently Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the TD Bank (2000-2010), before joining the School of Policy Studies in 2010. In 2011-12, he served as Chair for the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services. Its final report, released in February 2012, contained nearly four hundred recommendations to provide Ontarians with excellent and affordable public services. This Spring he is teaching a course on Public Sector Reform in the Master of Public Administration program.

Read Don Drummond's Commentary [PDF 164KB]


Tom Courchene Book cover [image]NEW Publication by Tom Courchene Released: "Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens"

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens offers a new paradigm for the relationship of Indigenous peoples with the settler societies in Canada. Thomas Courchene argues this model should be preferred to Canadian nationals, Canadian citizens (the traditional Assembly of First Nations vision) as well as to Indigenous nationals, Indigenous citizens (the Trudeau-Chrétien White Paper proposal).

Courchene begins with a detailed policy history from first contact to the 150th anniversary of Confederation, followed by chapters on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and recent dramatic and empowering Supreme Court decisions. The two penultimate chapters detail the manner in which this Indigenous nationals/Canadian citizens model has been successfully applied to the Yukon First Nations as well as to the four Inuit Land Claims Agreements. The final substantive chapter applies this model hypothetically to the entirety of the more than seventy First Nations in the province of Saskatchewan. Referred to as the Commonwealth of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (CSIN), the model would embrace provincial-type powers within, and closely coordinated with, the province of Saskatchewan. Among other features, CSIN would embody the requisite degree of self-government and scale economies essential for the Saskatchewan-based First Nations to successfully make the transition to Indigenous nationals and Canadian citizens.

BOOK LAUNCH Scheduled for Monday May 14, 2018 at Massey College in Toronto.  
RSVP to Emily Mockler by email , or by telephone at 416-978-6606.  Download the poster for full details.  

For more information on this publication or to order a copy, please visit the MQUP website.  


Remembering David Elder

Thursday, August 18, 2017

David C. ElderWith his death earlier this week, colleagues, alumni and friends are sharing their memories of David Elder, a member of the Queen's Policy Studies community as an Adjunct Professor and Distinguished Fellow for more than two decades.

David began helping with the core course on Approaches to Policy Analysis in 1995 while he was still in the Privy Council Office, he was a speaker on the Ottawa program in the late 1990s, prior to his appointment as a Fellow in the School of Policy Studies in 2001 and instructor in courses on Public Sector Reform and International Governance.   In 2002, he became a co-instructor with Bob Wolfe of  both the MPA and PMPA versions of Approaches to Policy Analysis.  For 13 years, no student earned their MPA or PMPA degree without meeting David in the classroom.  

From the beginning, David was a very generous and faithful devotee of the School and its students.  He was immediately and continued to be engaged in several co-curricular activities.   He initiated and led a session on “Writing Briefing Notes” as a regular feature of the orientation program and was centrally involved in the organization of the Ottawa trip and the Washington trip and, whenever he could, an enthusiastic attendee at both.  

Beginning in the mid-2000s, David also played a lead role in the development of career support activities for full-time MPA students and in 2015, working with Lynn Freeman and Christine Fader, Queen’s Career Services, created Professional Foundations, the umbrella under which the School’s offers a series of programs designed to prepare students to make a timely and successful transition from graduate school to the workplace. He was an indefatigable reader of student resumes, and always willing to use his extensive Ottawa contacts in helping students find employment. He was also an active and hard-working member of the Visitors Committee, enticing many senior public servants to speak to our students.   He was also an active supporter of the Centre for International and Defence Policy as well as the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations. 

David was an active proponent of internationalizing the School’s activities.  In 2005 he assisted in programs for visitors from Shanghai and the Ukraine. In 2009 he was one of a small team, headed by Bob Wolfe, of former senior members of then Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to develop the Queen’s Annual Trade Policy Institute for public servants, which will he helped design and deliver through its nine iterations. 

These are the things that David did in the School following his retirement from the Canadian Public Service after a 30-year career that began in 1973 when he joined the Department of External Affairs, now Global Affairs Canada.  His assignments in the Department's headquarters in Ottawa included Senior Departmental Assistant to the Minister, and Director of International Economic Relations supporting Canada’s G-7 Summit sherpa.  He had foreign assignments in the Canadian Embassy in Dakar, Sénégal, the Canadian High Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe, and as Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, from 1989 to 1993.

He served in the Privy Council Office more than 10 years and was the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Machinery of Government, from 1998 to 2001. He had the responsibility of advising and supporting the Prime Minister on matters related to Canada's system of responsible, representative constitutional government, including advice on the structure and operation of executive government, the organization of the collective decision-making system in the Cabinet and its committees, the mandates and responsibilities of Ministers, the continuity of government and planning for transitions, ethics and accountability issues, and the relationship of the elected executive to Parliament and to the Crown. 

As a consultant on public policy and public administration, David provided advice to governments, including Nepal, Libya, Indonesia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Bénin. He was Senior Advisor in Canada’s Public Administration Reform Program with Russia from 2003 to 2010; in the program, implemented by the Canada School of Public Service, he oversaw the application of Canadian public sector expertise and experience to the issues and problems identified by the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation.

In memory of David and his tireless and enthusiastic support of literally hundreds of Queen's MPA students, his colleagues and friends, with support of David’s family has established the David Elder Award in Global Public Policy, to be awarded annually to an MPA student with academic and professional interests in global public policy, including international organization and foreign policy.  An online giving page is now open at:


QSPS Professor Robert Wolfe co-edits new IRPP publication

Book cover for "Redesigning Canadian Trade Policy for new global realities [image]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

International trade and investment are central to economic prosperity. But new global realities, including rising antitrade sentiment, are challenging long-held policy approaches in these areas. With the global trading system at a critical juncture, now is the time to examine these new trade realities and explore appropriate responses.

In this volume, the culmination of a comprehensive interdisciplinary research initiative, the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) has brought together groundbreaking contributions by more than 30 experts from eight countries. Together, they analyze how longer-term changes and emerging trends in international commerce, technology and economic power are affecting Canada, and what these changes mean for public policy.

The new publication, "Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities" is co-edited by Stephen Tapp, Ari Van Assche and Queen's Policy Studies professor, Robert Wolfe. It is available for purchase or preview from the IRPP website.

Meet Canada's 'deliveryman'

Monday, January 16, 2017
by Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

On the day that Justin Trudeau’s cross-country tour stopped in Kingston, the civil servant charged with helping the Prime Minister deliver on his commitments visited campus. Matthew Mendelsohn, an assistant professor in Queen’s Department of Political Studies from 1994-2000, is now leading the results and delivery unit that Prime Minister Trudeau created following the election.

Before giving a lecture at the School of Policy Studies, Mr. Mendelsohn sat down with Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer, to discuss his role as deputy secretary to the cabinet (results and delivery) in the Privy Council Office, explain the public service’s new approach to delivering results, and share his views on the role universities can play in the arena of public policy.

Matthew Mendelsohn lecturing at SPS | Jan 2017Matthew Mendelsohn, an assistant professor at Queen's from 1994-2000, explains his new role as deputy secretary to the cabinet (results and delivery) in the Privy Council Office

MK: Media have called you “Canada’s chief deliveryman.” How would you describe your role?

MM: My role is about ensuring that government is in a good place to deliver on the commitments in the ministers’ mandate letters. It’s to help ministers and departments overcome obstacles that may arise in terms of delivery.

[My role and the unit] is really about doing three simple things. First, it ensures the objectives are clear for new programs or policies. Second, it ensures the delivery plans are clear. Third, it ensures there is an appropriate measurement strategy to see if results are being achieved, if the policy outcomes promised to Canadians are being realized and, if not, how the policy can be re-calibrated or adjusted.

How does this new approach to defining, achieving, and reporting on results differ from the past?

I’d say there are a couple of different things that we are trying to do.

First, we’re trying to include more medium-term and longer-term outcome measures in what we are reporting and tracking. For example, a job-training program would not just report on the number of students they have served or the satisfaction rate of those students. It would report on whether the students actually got jobs in what they were trained for and, more medium-term, how long they held those jobs and if they are still in jobs in the field that they were trained for six months later. That doesn’t mean the input measures aren’t important, but government and departments have historically not spent as much time reporting on the outcomes.

The second difference is there is a real alignment between the public service and ministers in terms of their desire to focus on outcomes. In many organizations and government, reporting on results or accountability frameworks were often low priority public service exercises. There is accountability, an audit function, and it’s all really important. Whereas now, I think there is a shared agreement between public servants and political leadership that in addition to those functions, we want to have a better sense of what outcomes we are achieving for the dollars we are spending.

The third difference is that we’re more interested in public reporting on results and putting things out there more transparently. Some things might be going well; some things may not be going well. We are putting more data and evidence out there for citizens, stakeholders, the policy community, and the media to engage with and see how things are going.

Is there a culture shift involved with this new approach?

There’s a big change management process going on. At the moment, government and public servants are very keen, engaged, and focused on this culture change.

However, there are going to be frictions that emerge and gaps in skill sets and capacity. For years, people have reported on activities, “what we do.” Now they have to report on outcomes, and that is a more complex activity. It requires more nuanced assessment of what we control, what we don’t control, and how we attribute outcomes. That’s a big culture change, and I think everyone recognizes where we are trying to go and everyone has a shared vision.

Are there things current students could be doing now to adjust and prepare for this new approach within the public service?

In the public service right now, we are increasingly looking for people with skills that I think young people are well suited to offer that we haven’t had before. I think we need members of the public service to have big data analytical skills. We have the need for people who can visualize data and processes and have the ability to communicate that visually through infographics and other means. Crowd sourcing, open-source policymaking, and stakeholder engagement activities more broadly are skills that governments are just starting to recognize they need.

People must have the ability to make decisions in a more horizontal environment, a more open and transparent environment where a monopoly control of information is not an asset and not even possible. They must have the ability to mobilize and harness diversity and work in collaborative teams to achieve shared outcomes.

Many things haven’t changed, though. You still need clear lines of accountability, someone in charge, and you still need to get approval from a minister or someone with delegated authority from a minister. However, there are a variety of skill sets that government doesn’t have and needs more of, so we are in the process of looking at how we get those skills and bring people in with those skills.

Principal Woolf struck a committee to examine Queen’s University’s presence in the public policy arena. More broadly speaking, what roles can and should universities play in public policy in the 21st century?

That’s a really complex question. There’s the research element, the faculty element, the student element. I think there are pieces in all of that. I think we are in a period where there is less monopoly and control of information, so creating tighter collaboration and more open dialogue between researchers and public policy makers is really important. Having a place where governments can turn for authoritative information and real research remains important because we exist in a world where there are lots of incoming bits of information that may not be verifiable or as well tested.  

I think we are entering a period where governments are looking to outsiders and different ways of understanding the world. Government has a whole bunch of knowledge but so do researchers, stakeholders, and civil society. Governments need all of that understanding and knowledge to address complex public policy challenges, so to me public policy needs universities more than ever.


Big thinkers' conference pays tribute to policy leader

September 22, 2016
By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Keith Banting | School of Policy Studies | September 2016

In the academic world, conferences honouring retiring scholars are often reflections on their work by other researchers. However, an upcoming symposium paying tribute to Keith Banting will go beyond paper presentations in hopes of sparking the type of public policy debate Dr. Banting has contributed to for more than 40 years.

“Keith Banting has been consulted, officially and unofficially, by top policy-makers for years,” says Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, conference co-organizer and an associate professor in the Department of Political Studies. “The conference, in a way, pays tribute to those contributions by bringing together big thinkers – both scholars and practitioners – and providing a forum that encourages a cross-fertilization of ideas.

The questions Keith Banting asked about the factors impacting social policy in Canada are still valid today. Given the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and Queen’s 175th anniversary, this is an opportune time to revitalize the policy debate around these issues and reaffirm Queen’s place in policymaking and discussion.
— Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant (Political Studies), conference co-organizer

The conference, New Frontiers in Public Policy, will feature 11 presentations by leading Canadian and international academics on themes such as federalism, the welfare state, and multiculturalism. In addition to the presentations, a series of structured discussions will allow scholars and policy-makers to explore the links between academic research and public policy-making.

“The questions Dr. Banting asked about the factors impacting social policy in Canada are still valid today,” Dr. Goodyear-Grant says. “Given the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and Queen’s 175th anniversary, this is an opportune time to revitalize the policy debate around these issues and reaffirm Queen’s place in policymaking and discussion.”

Dr. Banting formally retired from Queen’s in summer 2015. He maintains an association with Queen’s as a professor emeritus and as the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in the School of Policy Studies. As the second director of the School of Policy Studies, Dr. Banting played a pivotal role in defining the school’s mandate to link teaching and research with contributions to public policy debates. Dr. Banting was also a founder of the Queen’s International Institute for Social Policy, an international conference held every August. He continues to help lead the program development for the conference.

“I am blown away by the willingness of colleagues to come long distances for the conference. It’s a star-studded cast, and I am looking forward to our debates very much," Dr. Banting says. "I am also anticipating a bit of a roast along the way. It should be fun.”  

Dr. Banting was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. In 2012, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stockholm University, and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Most recently, Dr. Banting received a lifetime achievement award from the American Political Science Association Canadian Politics Section.  

New Frontiers in Public Policy will take place Sept. 23-24. The event is co-hosted by the Department of Political Studies, the School of Policy Studies, and Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations. Financial support for the conference is also provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The papers presented at the conference will be collected into a volume edited by Dr. Goodyear-Grant, Richard Johnston, Will Kymlicka, and John Myles. Visit the conference website for more information.

September 6, 2016

A new year and great opportunity

Admitting he is “humbled, honoured and delighted” to be asked by principal Daniel Woolf to lead of the School of Policy Studies as executive director, Dr. David Walker sees great opportunity in the new academic year for the school and synergies with Queen’s more broadly to heighten the university’s contributions to social and public policy.

A key example he pointed out is the commission being created by principal Woolf to examine the future of public policy at Queen’s through a university-wide lens. “The Principal believes policy scholarship and education to be a profoundly important piece of the Queen’s tapestry,” said Dr. Walker.

The commission fits with one of Dr. Walker’s goals to mobilize the many strengths within the school to support and foster a greater degree of cohesion and collaboration to augment the school’s position as one of Canada’s pre-eminent policy schools, and advance Queen’s overall reputation in this area.

“Queen’s history is one of tremendous interface with the federal and provincial governments and we have remarkable talent and commitment in our full-time faculty, such as Dr. Rachel Laforest, Dr. Kathy Brock and Dr. Robert Wolfe, said Dr. Walker. “We have equally remarkable assets in our many fellows and adjuncts, which include current and former executive and senior public servants who are such great supporters of the school and equally at the heart of the teaching and academic excellence in our programs.”

The most visible example of this commitment is the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Professional Master of Public Administration (PMPA). “Our two outstanding programs attract highly talented students”, said Dr. Walker. “As graduates they join a community of alumni making transforming contributions at all levels of the public service and other sectors including non-profits, education and healthcare.

Dr. Walker talked about how the faculty and staff are energized to begin the new academic year.  He advises incoming MPA and PMPA students to make the most of their Queen’s experience: “Take a step back and consider what it is that makes Canadian values special and that Canadians as members of the global society consider to be important.  Then think about how those values are translated into policies that generate change for the betterment of our society, in whatever fields they may be: healthcare, immigration, trade, intergovernmental relations,  our relationship with indigenous peoples as well as the role we play on the world stage in peacekeeping, defence, trade and the environment.”

Dr. Walker added that the school’s centres and institutes (Centre for International and Defence Policy, Institute for Intergovernmental Relations and Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environment Policy) add significantly the academic strength of the school in social policy.

He also said many initiatives are being considered for the school. These include a program to address some of the priority areas of public policy for Canada aimed to coincide with Canada’s sesquicentennial and the 175th anniversary of Queen’s; growth in professional development education to external clients; and increasing the school’s contributions in other sectors such as healthcare and indigenous policy.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits of the enthusiasm of our faculty, our adjuncts, our fellows, our staff and our students in advancing the School of Policy Studies as we tackle major public policy challenges that face this country and the world,” said Dr. Walker. “For all of us it’s going to be a very exciting time.”


June 16, 2016

Queen’s Leads Healthcare Conversation for Canada    

Canada has a healthcare system that costs $219 billion a year, and involves fourteen provincial, territorial and federal governments. What would a national healthcare "innovation" agenda look like?

Last week, Queen’s brought together more than 100 senior leaders from business, government, academia and healthcare delivery from across Canada in Toronto to address this critical issue at the 2016 Queen’s Health Policy Change Conference: Transforming Canadian Healthcare through Innovation: The Agenda.

“The Queen’s conference model is unique in Canada”, says Dr. A. Scott Carson, Stauffer-Dunning Chair and Executive Director, Queen’s School of Policy Studies. “We bring together a unique group of senior leaders from a wide spectrum of the healthcare sectors for an in-depth dialogue focused on innovation and change in healthcare policy.”

CIHP Conference Deputy Minister Panel | 7-8 June 2016

(Pictured L to R: Dr. Bob Bell, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (Ontario),
Dr. Peter Vaughn, Deputy Minister, Department of Health and Wellness (Nova Scotia),
Beverly Clarke, Deputy Minister, Department of Health and Community Services (Newfoundland and Labrador),
Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister, Health Canada,
Dr. Carl Amrhein, Deputy Minister, Alberta Health)

A Canadian innovation agenda was examined from many perspectives: supply chain management, funding systems, managing waste and duplication, corporate innovation, entrepreneurs, specific populations (military, frail elderly, mental health), and government leadership.

More than 40 leaders and experts led the discussions, including: Dr. David Naylor (former president, University of Toronto), David O’Toole, CEO, Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services, Neil Fraser, President of Medtronic and deputy ministers of health from Health Canada, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Participants from Queen’s included: health sciences dean, Dr. Richard Reznick; executive director of policy studies, Dr. Scott Carson; chancellor-emeritus Dr. David Dodge; associate-dean from the Smith School, Dr. Elspeth Murray; past-president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Chris Simpson; and from Queen's policy studies, Don Drummond, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Duncan Sinclair. The conversation was also informed by Queen's professors, Dr. John Muscadere, Scientific Director, Canadian Frailty Network and Dr. Alice Aiken, Scientific Director, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) as panelists.

This was the fourth Queen’s Health Policy Change Conference, a joint venture now led by the Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Policy, School of Policy Studies and the Faculty of Health Sciences and Smith School of Business. The series has brought together more than 500 leaders from Canada and internationally, and resulted in nearly three dozen publications. Two books resulting from previous conferences, Toward a Healthcare Strategy for Canadians and Managing a Canadian Healthcare Strategy are available on McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“For many Canadians, our healthcare system is a central part of what defines Canada but, despite popular opinion, our system is very expensive and not performing well at all when compared internationally,” says Dr. Carson. “Through this series we bring the substantial academic strength of Queen’s University to the table to lead this important national conversation for Canada.”

March 30, 2016

Electoral Reform and the Trudeau Government

Prof Kathy Brock, Prof Jonathan Rose, Hon. Peter Milliken | Jan 21, 2016The Policy Speakers Series featured acclaimed professor and expert on citizens’ assemblies, Jonathan Rose, and retired MP and longtime Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, to speak about Electoral Reform in a discussion moderated by Professor Kathy Brock from Queen’s School of Policy Studies. Pros and cons of different proposed electoral systems, were presented as well as the best ways of engaging Canadians in the upcoming process of change.

Rose opened by calling attention to the “deliciously vexing dilemma the current government has put itself in” when they committed to end the first-past-the-post system. Since large numbers of the public still oppose change, he posited that, before focusing on systems, we need to engage Canadians and elected representatives in robust and innovative national conversations about what ends are desired and what electoral systems can do to support these values. Particularly concerned about the way Parliament has been run by parties, Milliken supported the potential of electoral reform to transform that imbalance and was enthusiastic about the prospect of country-wide deliberations proposed by Rose being incorporated into the future parliamentary electoral reform committee’s work.

The two speakers were divided on the merits of proportional representation versus preferential ballots. Milliken stressed the importance of maintaining geographical representation, which preferential ballots would assure. He also believes the preferential balloting system would motivate MP’s to work more with all constituents, not only those of their own parties. On the cautionary side, Milliken was concerned about the possibility of Toronto being more heavily represented under a proportional representation system.

Warning against the belief that any one system can do everything, Rose pointed out that some preferential systems can also be proportional (as in Ireland, Malta, and Australia). He also noted that a proportional balloting system with one member has rarely enabled vote share to be significantly more reflected in seat share in countries such as Australia, where this has been adopted. 

February 24, 2016

Canada at a Crossroads  - Bob Watts Speaks on Interconnection in Reconciliation

Canadians’ mutual needs and duties in the process of healing and reconciliation came to the forefront in a recent Policy Speaker Series talk by Bob Watts, a major leader in the process of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  An adjunct professor and fellow at the School of Policy Studies, former Assistant Deputy Minister, and former CAO for the Assembly of First Nations, Watts focused on the potential for moving forward together in a new era he depicted as Canada at the Crossroads.

Watts began by referring to the significant convergence of the 2015 release of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with 94 recommendations, with the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (predating Confederation) and the 400th anniversary of the Two Belt Wampum Treaty.  All of these acknowledge inherent rights to Indigenous self-government and support reconciling unity with diversity.

“We have within our institutions the ability to shape our future and recognize each others’ rights,” he said.  However, in order to move forward, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians have a duty to acknowledge the different strengths each brings to nation building.  “We are travelling with each other on the same river of life, but need to respect what’s in each other’s canoes.”

Although there is a longstanding interconnection in values, which includes large parts of the U.S. Constitution having been drawn from the Iroquois Constitution, he pointed to history books and practices that nearly erased Canada’s Indigenous culture, notably a century and a half of the residential school system.

Watts expanded upon the history and damage done by 150 years of the residential school system, which existed with the stated mission to “kill the Indian in the child.”    With the last school only closed in 1996 and nearly three generations of families affected, the system has left a legacy that continues to impact all Canadians. “By accepting that the legacy exists, we also accept the responsibility of putting things right.”

Noting that figures such as former Governor General Michaelle Jean have hailed reconciliation as “an opportunity of rethinking and rebuilding our nation,” Watts believes that all Canadians will benefit from a firm and lasting commitment to change. “Finding a new and refreshing way to think about each other will be hard work,” he stated, while pointing to “glimmers of hope” in the people and the current government. 

Watts closed with an evocative image of treating the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations as if they were as fragile as spring ice.  “If one person tries to grab it, it will crumble…but if many hands grasp it and lift gently, it could hold. And we might see the beauty: holding it up to the light.”


February 1, 2016

Canadian Responses to Refugees: Lessons Learned and Forgotten

Naomi Alboim | School of Policy StudiesOn November 12th, the Policy Speaker Series featured Queen’s adjunct professor Naomi Alboim in a timely presentation, The Boat People and Syrian Refugees: Lessons Learned and Forgotten. Ms. Alboim began with compelling statistics around the 12.2 million displaced and affected Syrians both inside and outside Syria, a situation that has grown steadily over the last five years “with no end in sight.”   To better look at our potential to accommodate and process refugees, she proceeded to compare the policies and processes of the previous government, resulting in the resettlement of only 3,500 from the region, mostly through private sponsorships, with the highly successful re-settlement of 60,000 Indochinese refugees in 1979-1981.

After explaining the background to the Indochinese refugee movement, Ms. Alboim outlined a range of political, operational, and policy issues that differentiate our successful 1979 response from pre-election actions regarding refugees. “In the 70’s, the Canadian response to the Boat People featured strong national, provincial and local leadership, and concerted government and civil society engagement,” she observed. “Rapid response was characterized by innovation, flexibility and determination.”  In addition to a massive civil society response, there was a strong focus on communications, expeditious processing, transportation and community coordination.  

In contrast, the Harper government’s actions exemplified micromanagement, contempt for the UN and the public service, and risk avoidance in a post 9-11 world.  Complicated forms and processes, and reduced resources in Canada and abroad  had also hindered Canada’s prompt and compassionate response to this humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Alboim pointed out that, prior to the tide turning in the summer of 2015 with media attention on the death of Alan Kurdi, the public was less engaged.  However the response since then has been overwhelming, with Canadians from all walks of life, all sectors, all regions, and all religious groups coming forward to assist.

Ms. Alboim concluded that, while examining elements of our past success will assist with a successful outcome for the new government’s increased refugee targets and timelines, Canadians still have an important role to play. “We can choose to close our doors to particular groups based on religion, race, ethnicity, geography or class or open doors to those in need and who will contribute to our nation-building exercise. The results of the recent election clearly show that Canadians have chosen the second. We now have, as we did in the days of the Indochinese movement, strong national, provincial and local leadership, and concerted government and civil society engagement to make the Syrian refugee movement a success.”

NAOMI ALBOIM is an active public policy consultant, advising governments and NGOs across Canada and abroad in Europe, the Caribbean, Ghana, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kenya. She also chairs the Intergovernmental Committee of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council and is a co-founder of Lifeline Syria. Ms. Alboim has written extensively on Canadian immigration policy, and advises the federal and provincial governments, universities, colleges, regulatory bodies, and NGO’s on a variety of related topics including immigrant labour market integration and refugee issues. 


January 13, 2016


Homecoming Address by Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University

On Homecoming Friday (October 23rd), renowned financial analyst and forecaster Don Drummond proposed that Canada needs a new attitude for future economic success in his talk, Dear Premiers - How Does 20 Years of Fiscal Austerity Sound?   Drummond, the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow and an adjunct professor in the School of Policy Studies referenced work that he recently completed for the Council of the Federation on Canada’s long-term economic prospects. 

Provincial and territorial Premiers asked the question whether economic and hence revenue growth would be sufficient to fund public services over the next 10-20 years. They defined funding public services as being able to keep public spending flat in real, per capita terms. Based on projections of the labour force, hours worked and productivity, Drummond said most provinces and territories would be able to pass this test. 

However, Drummond rejected the Premiers' test as being unrealistic. Provincial and territorial spending will almost certainly rise in real per capita terms, led by health care.  And most provinces and territories will not have sufficient economic and hence revenue growth to fund this spending. In response Premiers' will need to drive up economic growth if they wish to avert 20 years of fiscal austerity. The question is how. 

Drummond questions the effectiveness of OECD’s market-based recommendations to improve Canadian economic growth. He pointed to a number of counter-productive measures, including tax cuts to small businesses which de-incentivize growth.  He also referenced bilateral and complicated trade agreements that are difficult for smaller businesses to work within, especially when there is “effectively no free trade within our own national borders.”  

Drummond cited the inability of some groups, such as teachers and many trades people who need re-certification to work in other provinces, as particularly restrictive. On the other hand, Drummond pointed to an investment in the education of Aboriginal youth as having a most positive impact on overall productivity. “Why couldn’t every single person be more educated, and Canada be the best?” he challenged. 

“Have all Canadians benefitted from the growth we’ve had? Absolutely not,” Drummond argued, pointing to recent positive impacts benefitting only 1 to 10% of the population. Underemployment of highly educated immigrants and inadequately evaluated government intervention programs are also factors contributing to economic inefficiencies.  The first order for change, he contended, is that “we establish better information. We’re still not getting what we need to know.” This includes information for post-secondary students and their families to help them be part of a more productive future picture.

In closing, Drummond encouraged policy makers and educators to take an altogether different approach. “It takes a new and different breed of civil servant, one who operates more as a scientist, who looks at evidence and results, so that we can implement modifications as we go.”  

By Lin Bennett for the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, October 2015

December 17, 2015

A Win-Win Proposition - SPS Gets the Best through its Visiting Fellows Programs with the Provincial and Federal Governments

The presence of distinguished Fellows such as Margaret Biggs and Morah Fenning in the Queen’s School of Policy Studies helps bridge the worlds of government and academe with enormous benefits for students who are considering careers in public service.  It brings tremendous benefits to the School of Policy Studies (QSPS) as well, as these public servants step away from the day-to-day pressures of leadership roles in the Canadian and Ontario governments respectively to bring unique perspectives to the School’s teaching, research and conference programs.

Margaret Biggs, the Skelton-Clark Fellow, has been on leave from the federal government since 2013, where she served most recently for five years as President of the Canadian International Development Agency.  Previously Ms Biggs was Deputy Secretary, in the Privy Council Office and also an Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for workplace, labour market and social policies. During her two years at Queen’s, Ms. Biggs has played a major role in organizing and speaking at conferences such as the 2015 Queen’s International Social Policy Institute along with research and lecturing “on everything from risk management to foreign policy.”

While helping to enrich the education of QSPS students, Ms. Biggs has found that students are looking to her for advice on where they can fit in, curious as to where and how they can make a difference.  While encouraging, she stresses the core principle of public service: “You do your best to give rigorous and well-informed advice but at the end of the day, your job is to implement decisions made.” In the end, she emphasizes that excellence is the best key to all career success and longevity.  “Canada deserves the very best. You have to be really, really competent… if you want your advice taken; you have to know what you’re talking about.”

Excited to begin her one-year Amethyst Fellowship, Morah Fenning comes with more than 25 years experience in the provincial government, where she is Assistant Deputy Minister, Tourism Planning and Operations, for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.  Ms. Fenning has been impressed with the high quality of her fellow instructors, the students and other resources at Queen’s as she puts the final touches on a practical course in change leadership for the winter term.  Her aim is “to help the students hit the ground running.”   She is also serving as Director, Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Policy while at Queen’s, which she sees as another opportunity for her to contribute and learn.

Ms Fenning believes deeply in the concept of delivering value to the public. “If you’re a public servant, you’re judged by the result you produce …what am I doing and who am I doing it for?” Naturally curious, she finds that truly caring about others’ points of view is the most effective way to accomplish anything. “I could never have achieved half the things I’ve done if I didn’t take care to build relationships long before I needed them,“ she maintains.  

As they anticipate the eventual benefits to the governments which have made them available, both Ms. Biggs and Ms. Fenning are grateful. “It’s a real gift, the opportunity to read and think while engaging with brilliant students and professors,” says Ms. Biggs.  She plans to stay in close touch, and is glad to be a link to important events such as the “premier conference” for social policy in Canada.

Ms. Fenning is looking forward to seeing the results of her teaching term. “The single biggest value is going to be my better equipping talented graduates to thrive in the public service, whatever path they choose to take.  It’s my job to get the best and brightest to want to work in the Ontario Public Service…plus I’ll go back re-energized and all these experiences will make me a better leader.”    

November 13, 2015

New Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Policy Comes to the School of Policy Studies

Queen’s School of Policy Studies (QSPS) is launching a new research centre, the Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Policy (CIHP). “The CIHP will be focused towards the aspects of public policy of healthcare, and more refined academic areas” says Dr. Scott Carson, Stauffer-Dunning Chair and Executive Director, Queen’s School of Policy Studies. “We’ll shape it towards actual policy work and try to use the Centre to enhance the healthcare coursework …not have it sitting off by itself, but integrate it into the fabric of the School.”

The new centre builds on formative work, led by Dr. Carson for four years, through The Monieson Centre for Business Research in Healthcare in the Smith School of Business, which advanced healthcare change research with input from other faculties.  “The idea was that we would take healthcare, with a loosely defined managerial business slant, and see if we could identify common research interests across the university”, says Dr. Carson.

The most successful facet of The Monieson Centre healthcare initiative was the Queen’s Health Policy Change Conference Series (QHPCC). The three annual conferences (2013-2015) were built around the idea of national healthcare strategy for Canada. “No one was making the case for a system-wide, pan-Canadian (not federal, not top down, but collective) strategy and consequently no one had thought what form a strategy would take, what would go into it, how it would be managed,” says Dr. Carson.  “We always default to regionality.”

The conferences brought together 385 senior Canadian and international leaders from business, healthcare delivery, government and academia from eight nations all Canadian provinces and territories. Thirty publications resulted, including: white papers, proceedings, videos and a new book, Towards a Healthcare Strategy for Canadians. Edited by Dr. Carson, Jeffrey Dixon and Kim Nossal, the book was published in May 2015 as the 185th volume in the Queen’s Policy Studies Series by McGill-Queen’s University Press.  A second volume Managing a Canadian Healthcare Strategy  is forthcoming.

When Dr. Carson took leadership of Queen’s School of Policy Studies, the Dean of the Smith School of Business suggested the healthcare initiative should also move with him. The CIHP will now lead the Queen’s Health Policy Change Conference Series, into a new phase: Transforming Canadian Healthcare Through Innovation, three annual conferences which will examine enhancing our country’s ability to scale-up new discoveries and treatments. The opening conference, Transforming Canadian Healthcare Through Innovation-The Agenda, will be held in Toronto, June 7-8, 2016.  

“These conferences really put Queen’s on the map”, says Dr. David Walker, a Queen’s Professor of Emergency Medicine and Policy Studies, and member of the QHPCC steering committee. He is delighted the conferences and the new centre are now located in the School of Policy Studies citing the potential to deliver “outcomes that are meaningful, supplying information to governments and others who can make a difference.”

Don Drummond, Adjunct Professor and Matthews Fellow at the School of Policy Studies, an early proponent of this research, agrees with the enhanced opportunity to move policy forward, stating “We can’t just sit in our ivory towers – we need to help create actual policies.”

October 21, 2015

New QSPS Executive Director Director Brings Diverse Background to Promote Change

Dr. A. Scott Carson, the new Executive Director of the School of Policy Studies, has a unique and diverse background, one that “could sometimes be charitably described as eclectic,” he laughs. With a Bachelor of Commerce, followed by Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts degrees, culminating in a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Education, Dr. Carson has worked in academe, business, not-for-profits and public service. His new role in the School of Policy Studies aligns his passions for political philosophy, effective management, organizational strategy, and governance.  He hopes that this unique perspective will contribute to the development of new ways of thinking about educating Master of Public Administration graduates for the future.   

Dr. Carson is excited by the opportunity to use his experience and contacts to encourage development of students’ managerial capacities, while maintaining the high standards of the School.  “I see the School of Policy Studies as an absolute gold piece within Queen’s University – part of its DNA,” he says. He notes that a large number of its graduates find positions outside governments, and feels the training he is encouraging will add to their basket of skills. “Graduates need to be able to implement policy in dynamic environments; they need to understand governance structures and how organizations and institutions govern themselves and are governed. They need training to work in an environment in which policy needs to be developed and implemented, working with people across a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds.”

Dr. Carson’s recruitment to this role will draw on his diverse skill set and past experiences, including Deanships at two Canadian institutions, as well as his deep connection to the Queen’s School of Business. Dr. Carson was head of its Monieson Centre since 2011, a Professor of Strategy and Organization, and a former director of the Queen’s MBA program.  Dr. Carson looks forward to working with his new colleagues, some of whom were close collaborators on the Health Policy Change conferences organized by the Monieson Centre.   The research and related activities are being relocated to the School of Policy Studies and will continue under the proposed Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Policy. Dr. David Walker, a past member of the steering committee for the conferences, welcomes Dr. Carson’s new perspective. “Scott will ask some penetrating questions as to what is our raison d’être.” 

While Dr. Carson is hoping to encourage an ability to manage change among QSPS students, he also believes in this opportunity to manage change in the School itself.  “The School, like any part of the University, can benefit from fresh thinking about its future and how it leverages its strengths in an increasingly competitive market,” he concludes. “If we can generate grads who not only understand policy, but who also understand how different kinds of organizations work, we’ll have extremely knowledgeable graduates.”