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Renewing Trust in Public Institutions and Decision Makers: Launch of a Pan-Canadian Academic Network on Trust and Political Leadership

Press Release

MONTRÉAL, June 7, 2022  – The Jarislowsky Foundation today announced the creation of a network of five new endowed chairs at universities across the country, focused on training tomorrow’s leaders in government, politics, and the public service.

The Foundation is collaborating with Acadia University, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (in collaboration with l’École Nationale d’Administration Publique), Trent University, the University of Lethbridge and Vancouver Island University to set up this first-ever network of its kind at five liberal arts and science universities in five regions of Canada.

The President of the Jarislowsky Foundation, Mr. Stephen A. Jarislowsky, is at the origin of this network of university chairs. Born in Germany in 1925, Mr. Jarislowsky lived in the Netherlands and France between the two world wars.  He witnessed situations like those in Ukraine today.

Jarislowsky says the creation of these new chairs responds to an obvious need in our democratic societies. “These situations are unacceptable. People need to understand historical experiences in order to prevent repeating them. And one of the ways to do that is to ensure our governments are led by inspiring, highly trusted, reliable men and women who exercise fiduciary responsibility”, says Jarislowsky. “Once democracy disappears in a country, it takes years to re-establish if it is even possible. Optimistically, it’s a question of how we are going to strengthen and build trust in our public institutions, our organizations and ourselves”, added Jarislowsky.

This initiative, focused on the role and responsibilities of public policy makers, is aimed at attracting students who are interested in politics, as well as at anyone who wishes to eventually work, or already works in public administration, the public sector or for any order of government.

From a long-term perspective, the network’s aim is to professionalize ethical and fiduciary responsibility in political and public service by developing certification in trust and political leadership, and providing the foundation for successful and impactful careers in politics and public service.

Peter Ricketts, President of Acadia University says that this network of chairs will create a unique collaborative, interdisciplinary program in which students will take part in exchanges across the five universities to enrich their experience, exploring topics such as philosophy, political science, economics, public administration, history, communications, environment, and ethics. Mark Skinner, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Trent University states, “our goal here is to get five amazing Chairholders at five great universities, who will develop an exciting program that will link the country through a network of Jarislowsky Chairs collaborating together to train the future leaders of tomorrow through experiential learning.” The development of the study program will be done in accordance with the principles of academic freedom and the governance structures of each of the participating universities.

The universities are recruiting candidates for the Jarislowsky Chairs in Trust and Political Leadership positions.

The network of chairs is supported by an advisory council of accomplished Canadians, who have all been involved in public service in various capacities with great distinction:

  • Gordon Campbell, former Premier of British Columbia and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
  • Pierre Marc Johnson, former Premier of Québec
  • David Johnston, former Governor General
  • Frank McKenna, former Premier of New Brunswick
  • Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of Canada
  • Anne McLellan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
  • Murray Sinclair, former Judge and Senator

On behalf of the advisory council, David Johnston, Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017, emphasized that “this program is about helping to build trust in our institutions. Trust is the glue of our society and I think that glue is coming loose. Our democratic institutions are being eroded somewhat in various jurisdictions around the world, and we are not immune to that here in Canada.”

It is important to note that the Foundation is investing $10 million in the initiative and the universities have committed to finding total matching funds of $10 million. “Canadians cherish the rights and freedoms that make our country a beacon of light and a leader on the world stage. Now more than ever, our country requires a renewed effort to improve trust in public institutions by making those institutions more accountable and effective to the Canadians they serve,” said Brian Porter, Scotiabank’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Congratulations to the participating universities who will freely develop a curriculum that will shape our leaders of tomorrow.”.

The Bank of Nova Scotia has committed to support matching funds and other partners are seriously considering giving matching funds as well.

Composition of the advisory council

Gordon Campbell, O.C., O.B.C.

Gordon Campbell served as Premier of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011. From 1986 to 1993, Mr. Campbell was Mayor of the City of Vancouver. Since 2011, he has been High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Pierre Marc Johnson, Ad.E., G.O.Q., MSRC

A lawyer, physician and politician, Mr. Pierre Marc Johnson was the 24th Premier of Quebec and a Minister under René Lévesque. Mr. Johnson was a professor of law at McGill University and practices law as a lawyer emeritus.

The Right Honourable David Johnston, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.

Mr. David Johnston was Canada’s 28th Governor General in 2010. A lawyer and academic by training, he was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University from 1979 to 1994 and was President of the University of Waterloo from 1999 to 2010.

The Honourable Frank McKenna, P.C., O.C., ONB., Q.C.

A Canadian diplomat and lawyer, Frank McKenna served as Premier of New Brunswick for a decade, from 1987 to 1997. He later served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., C.C.

Ms. Beverley McLachlin was Chief Justice of Canada from 2000 to 2017. Ms. McLachlin is the first woman to hold this position. Previously, she was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The Honourable Anne McLellan, P.C., O.C., A.O.E.

Ms. Anne McLellan has served as Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as well as Minister of Health and Minister of Justice of Canada and Attorney General of Canada. She was also a law professor and Associate and Acting Dean of Law at the University of Alberta.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, C.C., MSC

Murray Sinclair is Anishinaabe, a lawyer, professor, judge, and retired Canadian Senator. In 1988 his Honour became the first Indigenous judge appointed in the province. In 2021, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada for his expertise and work in the field of Indigenous justice.

For further information: Media sources: English: Geoff Regan, [email protected]; Français: Stefanie Butt, Program Manager, The Jarislowsky Foundation, [email protected]


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