Conference to recognise and develop links with Canada

Published 11 June 2010

maple_leafResearchers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand will meet at the University of New England next month to celebrate their countries’ common heritage, to share past and present experiences, and to forge new links for the future.

The Canadian High Commissioner and the Consul General of Canada will travel to Armidale for the event – the 15th Biennial Conference of the Association of Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand (ACSANZ).

Associated with the multidisciplinary conference, to run from the 4th to the 7th of July, will be the 2010 Federation Dialogue – a public forum to be held at the Armidale Town Hall at 7.30 pm on the evening of Monday 5 July. The topic for the Dialogue will be “Climate change and federalism: Canada and Australia”.

The keynote speakers at both the conference and the Federation Dialogue will be Professor Tom Courchene, Director of the Institute for Intergovernmental Relations at Queen’s University in Canada, and Professor Clive Hamilton, Founding Director of the Australia Institute and Professor of Public Ethics at the joint Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (ANU, Melbourne University and Charles Sturt University).

Professor Courchene, a leading authority on Canadian public policy, has published more than 60 books and 250 articles on public policy issues; Professor Hamilton was made a Member of the Order of Australia last year for his services to public debate and policy development.

The convener of the conference, Dr Jim Maher, a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at UNE, said Australia and Canada were two of the “most alike” countries in the world – both in terms of legal and political systems based on a common heritage, and the challenges they face from “the tyranny of distance” and climate change.

“Both Australia and Canada experience – in their different ways – extreme climatic conditions,” Dr Maher said. “The Dialogue will examine how the federal systems of government in these two countries have dealt with policy-making to address the issue of climate change. It will be of interest to everyone – UNE students and staff, and members of the broader community, and there will be opportunities for members of the audience to ask questions of the two speakers.”

The conference itself, to be held in UNE’s Education Building, will include more than 40 papers presented by delegates from all three countries, as well as from Israel. They will deal with topics ranging from health, education, energy and the environment, to Indigenous issues, cultural diversity, literature and the arts, folklore, and social history.

One of the  highlights of the conference will be a panel session on local government reform on the morning of Tuesday 6 July. This will feature members of UNE’s Centre for Local Government, including Professor Brian Dollery, and Bligh Grant. Local government leaders have been invited to attend this session.

Dr Maher, who gained his PhD degree at the University of Calgary in Canada, teaches a unit on comparative federalism (Australia, Canada and the United States) at UNE. “The Canadian Government has provided financial support for Canadian studies at UNE in 2010, including financial sponsorship for the ACSANZ Conference and the Federation Dialogue, and will continue its support over the next 12 months,” he said.