In this month's guide to all the latest at PPF: A public policy guide, a newsletter for Atlantic Canada, and recommended reading


Level up your leadership skills
The registration deadline is fast approaching for the Public Policy Leadership Program — it’s Friday, Sept. 8. This one-of-a-kind program integrates personal leadership development with an advanced and applied exploration of domestic and global policy issues. Need help convincing your manager to let you attend? We can help! Download our letter to your boss template.


AI opportunities and risks
Do you need a compass to help navigate the ever-changing world of AI governance? The AI Policy Compass program provides decision-makers and policymakers with a foundational understanding of AI technology, introduces the latest legal and regulatory approaches to AI across the world and imparts essential understanding needed to shape the future of AI governance. Visit our website to read more and register for the AI Policy Compass program.


Policy 101
This week, Action Canada launched its new Policy 101 video series. The videos, which draw on the expertise of Action Canada Fellows, break down elements of public policy into digestible, engaging modules, with real-world examples to illustrate concepts.  They feature teacher guides linked to high school curriculums across Canada, which provide educators with a valuable roadmap to introduce engaging and interactive content to students.
Watch all four videos and share them with anyone who wants a better understanding of the policy-making process —and how to engage with it.


We’re excited to introduce two impressive new names to the PPF policy team.

Mike Blanchfield is our new Director of Energy Policy. Mike comes to PFF after a decades-long career as an international affairs journalist for several major news organizations based on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. He is also the co-author of the award-winning book, The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War, and the author of Swingback: Getting Along in the World With Harper and Trudeau.

Steven Hogberg is our newest Policy Lead. Steven has over 12 years of experience in the policy world.  Most recently, he was a policy analyst at Global Affairs Canada working in international Health and Nutrition with progressive experience in economic development, international affairs, and climate change policy.


We’re excited to be launching a weekly newsletter dedicated to news and events that are affecting momentum in the Atlantic region. The Atlantic Momentum newsletter will be an invaluable resource for Atlantic Canadians and policymakers alike. The first edition will be published this month, sign up to be among the first to receive it.


OCTOBER 24, 7-9 P.M.
A new era of artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is transforming entire sectors, and its march will continue to challenge the status quo; already, researchers leveraging the capabilities of AI have changed the game in health and science, accelerating discovery and launching breakthroughs.

At A New Era of Artificial Intelligence: Envisioning the Future of Health and Science, AI researcher and entrepreneur Dr. Demis Hassabis will delve into AI developments in health and science, future uses and how Canada should be responding. PPF Fellow Shingai Manjengwa, Head of AI Education at ChainML, will join him in a conversation and audience Q&A to further explore these questions through a policy lens.

This event, in partnership with the Gairdner Foundation and Public Policy Forum, is part of the Gairdner Global Perspectives Panel series presented by Telus Health.

Registration is free.

There’s still time to snag the early bird discount for PPF’s Annual Testimonial Dinner Honour Roll
PPF’s next Annual Testimonial Dinner Honour Roll will be held in Toronto on April 11, 2024. More than 1,100 leaders and policy wonks from all sectors of society will gather to pay tribute to distinguished Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to public policy and good governance. And what a time we’ll have; take a look at the 2023 edition, and register now for an early-bird discount – in effect until Sept. 30!


How Canada’s youth are rebelling against polarization
At a recent PPF members’ event, Victoria Kuketz, PPF Fellow in Digital Democracy and investigative journalist Justin Ling talked about their recent report Far and Widening: The Rise of Polarization in Canada.

The discussion with members focused on some findings about the impact of polarization on young Canadians: One of the surprising concerns that stood out, noted Ling and Kuketz, was around the pressures of cancel culture. Youth generally agree with socially progressive movements, but not the pressure to denounce and constantly participate in the discourse.
“They’re terrified that people are seeking to react rather than to listen and correspond,” said Kuketz.

If you missed the members’ event read our full coverage.


Richard Dicerni was a treasured friend of the Public Policy Forum, including time on the Board of Directors and as a member of the exclusive PPF Honour Roll, writes PPF President and CEO Edward Greenspon.

“Richard Dicerni personified everything that’s right about public service and the Public Service. He was strategic, informed, publicly interested, proportionate, future-oriented and wise – it was his wisdom and sagacity that truly set him apart. Among the professionals who earn their keep across this country by giving cabinet ministers their best advice on policy, programs and governance, Richard was the one to whom they turned for their own advice.”

Read the full remembrance.


Illustration of speech bubbles clashing into each other• Our report on polarization in Canada continues to get attention. Writing in The Line, Colin Horgan cites the report in his argument for the reintroduction of the per vote subsidy. Without the subsidy, parties are in constant need to raise money. Fundraising has fuelled “a cycle of ever-deepening outrage designed to attract new supporters and harden the convictions of the converted.”
• In an essay for the University of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, PPF Fellow Vass Bednar examines why Canada needs to rethink app store governance, with a particular focus on Shopify.
• In The Hub, PPF Fellow Sean Speer offers some advice for the Trudeau government on what it can learn from Stephen Harper about spending controls and budget discipline.
• PPF Fellow Robert Asselin also looks at the current government’s spending habits and warns of the long-term consequences. “More deficit-financed spending at higher interest rates will eventually and inevitably lead to levels of indebtedness that will force future governments to cut spending and raise taxes,” he writes in the Globe. “It will lead to a weakened economy because businesses and investors will understand that high spending means higher taxes down the road, not just for them but for their employees.”
• Deanna Matthews, a 2022-2023 Action Canada Fellow, writes in the Toronto Star about the shortage of teachers in Indigenous communities and how to address this challenge. For starters: “Canada should provide student loan forgiveness to teachers teaching in an Indigenous community, similar to the existing Canada Student Loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses who are employed for a full year in an underserved rural or remote community.”


We asked PPF team members and Fellows what they’re reading and listening to this month. Here’s what they said:

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell. “What did you do while [Canada] burned, mommy?” “I read about it.” I’m reading The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet, at all hours of the night, a chaser for wildfire doom scrolling. It jolts me from parental leave’s surrealism and reminds me of all the policy work we have to do to save the planet.  –Vass Bednar, PPF Fellow.

Marginal Revolution. I loved this podcast. Tyler Cowen and Marginal Revolution have had a major influence on my own thinking.  –Sean Speer, PPF Fellow

Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea by Kira Salak. Adventure and travel writer Kira Salak was described by the New York Times as “real-life Lara Croft.” Her debut non-fiction book describes her journey across the most foreboding jungles and rivers of Papua New Guinea, “to see what she was capable of.” Repeatedly terrified or horrified for her, I couldn’t put the book down. She also describes with great respect, while not romanticizing, the many Papuans she met along her journey. –Sara-Christine Gemson, Executive Director, PPF Academy and Action Canada

The Course of Bigness: Antitrust in The New Gilded Age by Tim Wu. This book offers an excellent analysis of the importance of government market regulation. It makes the case that more control is needed to avoid the excessive power of big corporations in the economy that can lead to increased social inequality. –Rodrigo Barbosa, PPF Policy Associate

Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie. The book is based on Radisson’s own diary accounts. It tells a remarkable tale of his numerous adventures, turmoil and violence, disloyalty, mishaps, and occasional triumphs. Radisson was an adventurer, but also could be a scoundrel. He was allied with but also disloyal to the French, the Iroquois (who adopted him for a time), and the English, and not to be trusted — and his companion Groseilliers was apparently even worse!  A great read on a prominent character in Canadian history, if you can get through the rather gory first chapter.  –Glen Hodgson, PPF Fellow

Un dimanche a la piscine a Kigali by Gil Courtemanche. This book was recommended to me due to my international development background. It transports the reader to an exclusive view of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict and the AIDs epidemic in Rwanda during the 90s. Courtemanche narrates a love affair between a Canadian expatriate and a young Rwandan, surrounded by the havoc glowing around this beautiful and exclusive pool in a hotel in Kigali. -Leonardo Lozano, PPF Policy Associate

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. A very well written (I mean page-turner) history of the world through the oft-neglected setting of Central Asia and the Eurasian landmass. Strong connections made to the societies, economies, and polities that emerged along the Ancient and Medieval Silk Roads. –Steven Hogberg, PPF Policy Lead

The Church Forests of Ethiopia. Wonderfully made photography project by Kieran Dodds on the role that the debre (or local rural church) is playing to guide local forest replanting, community resilience, and local Orthodox tradition in Ethiopia. Must view for anyone interested in holistic development and ecological regeneration. –Steven Hogberg, PPF Policy Lead

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – The famous adventurer Bear Grylls called this the best adventure book he’s ever read – a hard-to-ignore endorsement. The story of Louis Zamperini (unlikely Olympic hero, lost at sea during the Second World War for 47 days, followed by two and half years in a POW camp) is exactly as described: a testament to human endurance. –Colin Campbell, PPF Editorial Director

Don’t miss next month’s PPF Insider: Subscribe to the newsletter.