10th Annual Hurtig Lecture on Cities and the Future of Canada

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi set to speak on the future of Canadian cities at the annual Hurtig Lecture

Donna McKinnon - 16 September 2015

Please note: Because of high demand, the location of this year's Hurtig Lecture has been changed to the Myer Horowitz Theatre (Students' Union Building, University of Alberta).

Mel Hurtig, the creator and publisher of the Canadian Encyclopedia, officer of the Order of Canada and fierce political warrior/muckraker, will return to Edmonton to attend the 10th anniversary of the Hurtig Lecture on the Future of Canada on Oct. 21 at Convocation Hall.

This year's theme is "Cities and the Future of Canada," with Edmonton and Calgary mayors Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi as featured speakers.

"The lecture series has been an enormous success," says Hurtig, from his home in Vancouver. "We've been able to attract some of the best people in the country, like Margaret Atwood, Peter C. Newman, Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail, and many others. And this year I'm very honoured to have these two mayors. They'll draw a big crowd."

The Hurtig Lecture series on the Future of Canada was launched in 2005. It was the vision of Janine Brodie, Canada Research Chair and Distinguished Professor, as well as the Department of Political Science to mark Alberta's centennial year with a celebration of engaged citizenship, as embodied by Canadian nationalist Mel Hurtig, or "Mr. Canada" as he is known to some.

For the series' organizers, facilitating active political engagement requires an approach that encourages open dialogue across varying perspectives and localities.

"The Hurtig Lecture has brought Canada's leading engaged citizens to the University of Alberta," says Brodie. "Their candid and revealing lectures-open to the broader Edmonton and University of Alberta communities alike-have been reprinted in national media and replayed on national radio. As important, the lecture has afforded our students close and personal contact with Canada's opinion leaders."

Following the mayors' speeches, Lois Harder, chair of the Department of Political Science, will moderate an armchair Q & A with Iveson and Nenshi. Questions collected before and during the event from those in attendance will be read by Harder. "It will be a very dynamic conversation," she says. "We have these two incredibly impressive mayors in Alberta, who are so exciting and have so many ideas about how we might live together on this scale."

Harder believes this year's theme is particularly relevant given the current realities of the Canadian political landscape.

"One of the elements of the Harper government has been an enormous decentralization," she says. "Provinces have become very powerful, the federal government much less so, and cities are just hanging out there on the sides without much capacity to raise money, and yet they are the places where the vast majority of Canadians live. Our students [in political science] can certainly take municipal politics here, but when they think about political science they're generally thinking about the large-scale global picture, even though what really affects their lives is the city where they actually live."

The Hurtig Lecture will be held two days after the federal election, assuring a lively and politically charged exchange of ideas and opinions-the very thing Mel Hurtig has championed his entire life.

"I think that what we're doing is important because it supplements [the work] we do at the University of Alberta," he says. "To be an engaged citizen means getting involved in your community, in the life around you and in the political processes of our country."

Following the Q & A and closing remarks by Harder, there will be an informal reception in the foyer of Convocation Hall. Hurtig will also be signing copies of his eighth and latest book, The Arrogant Autocrat: Stephen Harper's Takeover of Canada.

The 10th Annual Hurtig Lecture takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Horowitz Theatre (Students' Union Building, U of A). Doors open at 6:30. Everyone is welcome and admission is free. To attend, please RSVP for the 10th Annual Hurtig Lecture.