Climate Refugees and Canada’s Role as a Middle Power

Climate change is affecting more and more regions across the globe, threatening to create as many as 200 million environmental migrants by 2050. While Canada is seen as a top destination for refugee resettlement and is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the international agreement doesn’t recognize climate threats as a reason for fleeing. As such, what should Canada’s policy response be to
address the issue of climate refugees? To discuss this question, we were joined by two special guests: Allan Rock and Bob Rae.

Allan Rock is President Emeritus of the University of Ottawa, and a Professor in its Faculty of Law. Amongst other positions, Professor Rock practised in civil, administrative and commercial litigation and was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1993 and re-elected in 1997 and 2000. He was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Minister of Health, and Minister of Industry and Infrastructure. Before becoming the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, he was appointed in 2003 as Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

Bob Rae was elected eleven times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature between 1978 and 2013, was Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995, and served as interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013. He currently works as a lawyer, negotiator, mediator, and arbitrator, and is a Fellow of the Forum of Federations. Professor Rae teaches at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Law, Massey College, Victoria College, and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Special thanks to junior producers Fatemah Ebrahim and Brody Longmuir, senior producer Robert Giannetta, and executive producer Vienna Vendittelli for their work with this episode.

Election Special

Today is election day. As Canadians head to the polls, we take a look at issues that don’t usually garner a lot of attention during the campaign. The first interview is with Yves Giroux, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to discuss the work his office is doing costing the party’s platforms during the campaign. Then Mel Cappe, the former Clerk of the Privy Council in Canada, discusses how the bureaucracy plans for a transition in government. Finally, Adam Laughton, a Munk school student and NDP candidate for Mississauga Lakeshore, is interviewed about youth involvement in politics. 
Special thanks to executive producer Alex Gold-Apel and senior producer Aryeh Ansel for their efforts on this episode.

Getting Ahead of Disruption

Public Policy Forum (PPF) is a non-profit organization that offers diverse participants in the field of public policy a platform to explore and discuss policy issues.

In this episode, we will be discussing two articles from PPF’s “12 Ways to Get Ahead of Disruption” series.

  1. Canada’s Infrastructure Revival: Let’s Get the Biggest Bang for Our Buck — Drew Fagan
  2. Inclusive Innovation: Using Technology to Bridge the Urban-Rural DivideWendy Cukier

Considering the technological, demographic, and climatic shifts of society, we will be talking with two authors about how they see Canada can best embrace the new possibilities in an age of uncertainty.

The whole collection of Canada Next: 12 Ways to Get Ahead of Disruption reports is available at:

Wendy Cukier is a professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Ted Rogers School of Management. She is one of Canada’s leading experts in disruptive technologies, innovation processes and diversity and is coauthor of the bestseller “Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Java to Jurassic Park.” She leads Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, which she founded in 1999 and has led projects aimed at promoting the participation and advancement of underrepresented groups. She is leading, in collaboration with Ryerson’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and the Ted Rogers School of Management, the newly-announced Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

Drew Fagan is a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Mr. Fagan previously spent 12 years in leadership positions with the governments of Ontario and Canada. With the Government of Ontario, he was Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Mr Fagan joined the Ontario Public Service in 2009 from Ottawa, where he was Assistant Deputy Minister for strategic policy and planning at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Mr. Fagan also worked at The Globe and Mail as the parliamentary bureau chief, editorial page editor and columnist, foreign editor, associate editor of Report on Business and Washington correspondent. Mr. Fagan is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Forum, where he has overseen recent research reports, as well as the C.D. Howe Institute and a number of other university institutes.

Erin Anderson-Birmingham,
host and producer
Public Policy Forum
Dimitri Treheles, Executive Producer

Music Credits:
Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Bublé
Stutter by Marianas Trench

Reaching towards The Sustainable Development Goals: A Discussion with the Young Diplomats of Canada Delegation

Today’s episode chronicles the travels of a small group of young Canadian professionals that recently traveled to Bali to be apart of Canada’s national delegation to a host of international development conferences hosted by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

This selection of live quotes from the events from leading public policy and international development leaders — Mahmoud Mohieldin (World Bank Group 2030 Vice-President) & Peter MacArthur (The Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia) — is supplemented with critical analysis and conversation from returning delegates.

This joint programming created by Beyond The Headlines and The Young Diplomats of Canada showcases the role of youth in achieving our list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Host and travelling delegate himself, David Boroto, takes listeners through an informed and objective discussion regarding the role and importance of domestic taxation and youth engagement pursuant of such goals. More specifically David sits down to have three unique conversations with returning delegates from the Meetings in Bali.

Firstly he talks with Simon Lavoie Perusse, a policy analyst at the tax policy branch at finance Canada with a background in economics and international relations and was a fellow delegate in Bali to have an informed discussion about the importance of taxation.

Second, David sits down with Pierre-Alexandre Renaud, a Project manager at Montreal International – economic development agency and Corinna Ha, a B.Comm student in her final year at McGill university, who were both delegates themselves to discuss the importance of SDGs in global development and the involvement of youth in achieving such goals.

Finally, David chats with Anumeet Toor. Anumeet recently recent graduated from law school and is starting her career as a lawyer with a focus on finance and international trade. David and Anumeet discuss the importance of youth participation in the political process.


David Boroto, Host
Dimitri Treheles, Technical & Executive Producer

The Weekly: The Impact of OSAP Changes on Lower-Income Students – A Conversation with Dr. Andrew Parkin


Earlier this year, the Government of Ontario announced changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). These changes include the elimination of free tuition through grants for lower-income students, a decrease in the maximum income threshold to qualify for the program,  a reduction in the percentage of grants available, the elimination of the 6-month interest free period following graduation and a change in the definition of “independent student” to someone who has been out of school for 6 years, instead of 4 years.

Alex Gold-Apel sits down with Dr. Andrew Parkin, the Director of the Mowat Centre, and an expert in education policy, to discuss how these changes will affect lower-income students in Ontario.

Beyond the Headlines would like to thank Dr. Parkin and the entire Mowat Centre team for their collaboration over the past many years. We wish them well as they pursue the next steps in their career.

The Weekly: Equity, Inclusion & Public Policy


This week, in collaboration with the Gender, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative, we discuss how women in politics is changing the narrative, shattering glass ceilings and paving the way for future generations of female leadership in North America, with guest Gabrielle Gallant.


Kaidie Williams, producer & host
Aneet Gill, producer & host
Emma Schwartz, producer & host
Fatema Jaffer, producer & host

Urban Resilience

We are currently living in a time of unprecedented urbanization that is transforming the planet and the way we live.

Being resilience means to be ahead, think ahead — Chrystelle Maechler

With a greater concentration of people and assets in urban cities, the impact of natural disasters and a changing climate can be devastating. Urban resilience aims to develop the capacity of every component within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks it might experience. While cities were originally designed to remove or minimize disturbances, a resilient approach demonstrates the importance of living with those disturbances. Strengthening the underlying fabric of a city can improve its development trajectory and the well-being of its citizens.

With regards to the government, it is definitely a shared responsibility, but the majority tends to run best with the local government for responses like snowstorms and heavy rain whereas the federal government tends to get things like military or terrorism security, but all three levels of government that need to be worried about it — Daniel Hoornweg

Urban resilience includes how well a city can adapt to climate change and the impact of extreme weather but also attempts to address a wide array of other issues, such as: inequality, aging infrastructure, and changing demographics. Creating links between physical and social systems aid in developing a resilient city that is sustainable for the future. Today we will discuss urban resilience with three special guests, who will each provide a different perspective when it comes to developing a resilient city.

The most resilient places around the world are the places that have been able to withstand the test of time and all of its issues and problems are places that worked with the forces and with the geography and geology and ecological framework that shape the place to start with rather than against it — Fadi Masoud


Chrystelle MaechlerDirector, Producer and Writer of the documentary series, Urban Resilience

Daniel Hoornweg, Ontario’s Chief Safety and Risk Officer

Fadi Masoud, Assistant Professor of Landscape and Architecture and Urbanism at Daniels Faculty


Anna Miller, Host & Producer
Vienna Vendittelli, Host & Producer
Jasper Parades, Technical Producer
Dimitri Treheles, Executive Director

Music Credits:
A Little Too Much by Shawn Mendes

POLICY, POLITICS & MEDIA: The Intersection of Government Action & Public Opinion




BTH Panel Discussion eBook


Beyond the Headlines hosted a panel discussion on the evening of March 13 to explore the intersection of government action and public opinion.

The game part of politics – who’s wining, who’s losing – is indispensable tool in political life. But I would say there is whole swath of things going on that we don’t really understand right now about what’s happening in our society, whether it’s around economic anxiety, values surrounding immigration and so on. The more detailed data we get, the more we lose the picture of what’s really going on. In a funny way, the media, who used to be able to try and channel some of the fundamental shift in society, that voice is getting lost — Andrew Parkin

As the Federal Election approaches, our diverse panel of academics, policy professionals and industry specialists will examine the ever-evolving role of the media and public interest on the policy process.

Worthy policy pieces do not get read. It has to be compelling… When you get into policy, you have to explain why they’re promoting that policy… We don’t get too many windows in how the leaders will perform, how they would perform and how they would approach decisions especially if they haven’t been prime ministers before. So we have to say – here is what we’re learning about this person during the campaign, or the state of this party, and where the parties are at right now. Because you can’t just pretend that whatever the platform is now will shape the government’s mandate — Adam Radwanski

The discussion will touch on a host of current issues that are salient in the minds of voters; examining how recent government action has influenced public opinion leading up to the 2019 election. 

No matter how hard we try to cover policy on our program, the reality is that there’s only so much of that that is relevant or useful. It may actually be more relevant and useful to focus on how trustworthy these leaders seem. Do they seem like they are forming? Do they seem like they’re in my corner? This isn’t the ‘would I feel fun going to have beer with them?’ This is whether they represent my values and interests or whether I feel if they do. Which may be of more relevant than what their position is on subsidized housing — Steve Paikin




While trust may be eroding, one of the reasons why traditional media still have a little bit of an edge on other sources is that it’s staffed by people who are there for a singular reason, which is that they believe in it. I hope where we get is that the traditional media becomes the certified stamp of ‘you can trust us’. Traditional media has work to do to reclaim that, we’ve strayed from where we need to be — Amanda Lang


We typically do a big election poll and time and time again, when asked what the most important thing was in influencing your vote today, it’s the leader – not the local candidate, not the party stance on the issues…. People want to hear the horse-race, that’s what’s exciting, that’s what you can measure against actual outcome — Sean Simpson


Panelists & Moderator:

  • Amanda Lang, Anchor of BNN Bloomberg & Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
  • Adam Radwanski, Political Feature Writer at The Globe and Mail
  • Sean Simpson, Vice-President of IPSOS
  • Andrew Parkin, Director of the Mowat Centre & Associate Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
  • Moderated by: Steve Paikin, Host of TVO’s The Agenda

The Opioid Crisis

On today’s show we will be discussing some potential policy responses to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. As strategies to tackle the opioid crisis have been a focal point of all levels of government, various stakeholders have proposed taking a public health response to address the ongoing national epidemic. In the first half of 2018, there were 2,066 apparent opioid-related deaths, which means that more than 9,000 lives were lost between January 2016 and June 2018 related to opioids. Experts have attributed this ongoing crisis due to the rates of high-dose opioid dispensing which began in the mid-2000s and have significantly increased since then. Canadians are the 2nd highest per capita consumers of opioids in the world, after the United States.

In response, the Government of Canada has embraced and is committed to taking action against the opioid crisis through a targeted public health emergency response which includes: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement which is supported by evidence-based research. The federal government has also restricted the marketing and advertising of opioids the healthcare professionals. A key focal point of the shared intergovernmental response to the crisis is the the Government of Canada’s financial commitment of $5 billion dollars to the provinces and territories over ten years to improve access to mental health and addiction services.

At the provincial level, the Ford government recently signed onto a bilateral agreement with the federal government to access its share of the $150 million fund earmarked for the opioid crisis in order to expand access to treatment and rehabilitation services at supervised consumption sites. Yet in order to renew permits and receive funding under the new Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) model, sites must complete an application that demonstrates:

  • A need,
  • Its proximity to other sites and services, and community support
  • There is ongoing community consultation
  • Integration with primary care, treatment and other health services
  • “Defined pathways” to addictions treatment, rehabilitation, mental health, housing, employment
  • Pick up of used harm reduction supplies

Importantly, the federal government still remains responsible for granting exemptions to Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to operate a Supervised Consumption Site.  Advocates of safe injection sites fear that the new guidelines set up by the provincial government are overly restrictive and create unnecessary roadblocks that may result in lives lost to overdoses.

In 2017 Toronto developed the Overdose Action Plan which outlined key prevention and response strategies including expediting the opening of supervised injection sites and addressing social factors that lead to substance abuse and overdose such as expanding the supply of affordable housing, implementing basic income and increasing the social assistance benefits and employment opportunities.More recently, the Toronto Board of Health called upon the federal government to decriminalize drug use and possession as there is “evidence on the health and social harms of the current criminalization approach to illegal drugs.”

With the assistance of today’s guests, we are going to dive head first into this issue as we now know how nuanced and interconnected the policy responses that are required to tackle the opioid crisis.

Gillian Kolla is a PhD candidate in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Toronto, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Bachelor of Social Work, both from McGill University. Her career to date, both academically and professionally, has focused on the barriers to healthcare and social services confronted by marginalized populations. Using ethnographic methods, Gillian’s PhD research examines a peer-based program that aims to address the barriers that limit access to hepatitis C prevention services and healthcare among people who use drugs. By exploring how risk and harm are experienced, embodied and mitigated by people who use drugs within the environments where they use drugs, her research aims to examine whether interventions in the spaces where people use drugs increase awareness and uptake of prevention interventions, and improve pathways into treatment and care.

Matt Johnson is the Coordinator of the Overdose Prevention Site at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. He is a long time Harm Reduction worker, advocate and was involved in setting up the unsanctioned Overdose Prevention Sites in Moss Park and Parkdale as an activist response to inaction around the overdose epidemic and the ongoing drug war. He has been asked to speak as an expert on substance use, Harm Reduction and Overdose response to Social Service agencies, Universities, a Coroner’s inquest and media. He continues to push for greater and meaningful involvement of people who use drugs in the development and implementation of services as well as policies affecting drug users. He works for an end to the drug war, and a humane system based in respect, human rights and greater health and stability for all.

Robert Giannetta, Host & Producer
Tony Yin, Host & Producer
Vienna Vendittelli, Technical Producer
Nuri Kim, Executive Director

Music Credits:
99 by Barnes Courtney
High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco


Data Privacy in Smart Cities: An Inside Look at Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside Project

Sidewalk Labs is owned by Alphabet Inc., a sister company of Google. Their goal is to improve urban infrastructure through technological innovation, to promote affordable living, efficient transportation, and environmental sustainability.

That being said, Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside Project at Waterfront Toronto, first announced in 2017, has been subject to a great deal of criticism regarding their data privacy policies. Many of the critics of  this Smart City project call for more public oversight; clear direction about data ownership and governance; and improved transparency and accountability Today, we unpack these issues with our expert guests, Ann Cavoukian and Nabeel Ahmed.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world’s leading privacy experts.  She is presently the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, leading the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence and is also a Senior Fellow of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at Ryerson University. She was the former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario for 17 years and more recently she resigned from her position as a privacy consultant for SideWalk Lab’s Quayside Project in October.

Nabeel Ahmed is a researcher and consultant on smart cities and social enterprise, and is currently on the steering committee of the Toronto Open Smart Cities Forum. He previously worked in the nonprofit, social enterprise and international development sectors and has degrees in urban planning, public administration, and business administration.

Shalini Ramgoolam,
Host & Producer
Nimmi Augustine,
Host & Producer
Alex Gold-Ape
l,  Host, Producer & Technical Producer
Nuri Kim, Executive Producer

Music Credits:
Sisters by Tribe Called Red ft Northern Voice
Mia by Bad bunny ft. Drake

Image Credit:,