History Wars: The Royal Ontario Museum

The Monarchy is a Dangerous Relic of the Past

Thursday, January 20, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Has the idea of “The Crown” run its course in Canada? Does it reflect Canadian values? Does it weaken or strengthen the Canadian constitution or has it been the quiet reason Canada has survived as a country for nearly 150 years? Should we leave well enough alone or find a practical way to end it all?

Moderator: J.L. Granatstein

Speaking for the motion will be Michael Bliss, author and historian. Bliss, born and raised in Kingsville, Ontario, is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, the author of numerous books in Canadian and medical history, and a prominent public intellectual. He has garnered numerous honours, including membership in the Order of Canada.

Speaking against the motion will be John Fraser, Master of Massey College. Educated at Upper Canada College and Newfoundland’s Memorial University, Fraser had an outstanding career as a prize-winning journalist and foreign correspondent with The Globe and Mail before entering academic life at the top. In 2010, he was widely-rumoured to have been one of the candidates considered for Canada’s governor-generalship. He, too, is a member of the Order of Canada.

Multiculturalism has put Canada on the Wrong Course

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Few issues are as controversial in Canada today as Multiculturalism. But where did the concept come from? How has it changed? How did it get into the Constitution? And, in an age of terrorism, reconcilable differences, and rising immigration, what does it portend for Canada’s future?

Moderator: Michael Bliss

Speaking for the motion will be J.L. Granatstein, a historian of Canadian politics, foreign policy and defence. Born in Toronto in 1939, he taught at York University for 30 years and has published extensively. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, has a number of honorary degrees, and has won prizes for his writings.

Speaking against the motion will be Haroon Siddiqui, born in India in 1942 and came to Canada in 1968. He joined the Toronto Star in 1978, serving as news editor, national editor, and editorial page editor. Since 1998 he has been a columnist. He has published books and articles on subjects ranging from 9/11 to political cartoons. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario.

Pierre Trudeau was a Disaster for Canada

Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

He was handsome, smart, loved beautiful women, and almost always won. But was Pierre Elliott Trudeau a good Prime Minister? Did he unite Canadians or divide them? Improve the country or nearly bankrupt it? Does he haunt us still as an ideal Prime Minister, or as an arrogant failure for whom we’re still paying a fearful price?

Moderator: J.L. Granatstein

Speaking for the motion will be David Frum, one of North American’s most prominent conservative journalists and commentators. A native of Toronto, Frum was educated at Yale and Harvard, has written for The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, as well as the National Post, and was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. His books include, How We Got Here, a history of the 1970s.

Speaking against the motion will be John English, author of the highly-acclaimed two-volume official biography of Trudeau. Professor of History at the University of Waterloo and general editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, English has also written the biography of Lester Pearson. He was a Liberal Member of Parliament in the 1990s and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

Louis Riel Deserved to Hang

Thursday, May 5, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pmNo figure in Canadian history is as controversial as Louis Riel. He led the 1869-70 rebellion and ordered the judicial murder of an opponent, but he also created Manitoba. Fifteen years later he sparked the rebellion in the Northwest that required the dispatch of an army to put down. The government sent him to trial and, when he was found guilty, refused to exercise the prerogative of mercy – right or wrong?

Moderator: J.L. Granatstein

Speaking for the motion will be Tom Flanagan who has taught political theory at the University of Calgary since 1968. Best known for his role as a key aide to Stephen Harper, Flanagan is one of Canada’s leading Riel scholars. He has written a number of books including the Donner Canadian Prize winning First Nations, Second Thoughts.

Speaking against the motion will be Pat Martin, the NDP MP since 1997 for Winnipeg Centre and author of a private member’s bill that calls for Riel’s conviction to be reversed and for the Metis leader’s recognition as a father of Confederation.

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