Institute for Research on Public Policy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) is one of Canada's oldest nonpartisan public policy think tanks. It is an independent, national, bilingual, not-for-profit organization. The IRPP’s inception was sparked by a proposal by Prime Minister Trudeau in 1968 for the establishment of an “independent and autonomous” institute for public policy research, whose work would be “available to all governments.”[1]

The Institute was founded in 1972 and is based in Montreal. Graham Fox is the current President and CEO, and Graham W.S. Scott is the current Chair of the Board of Directors. The IRPP publishes Policy Options magazine, currently edited by Dan Gardner; IRPP Studies; IRPP Insights; and Policy Horizons. In addition, the IRPP initiates and publishes peer-reviewed research, and organizes policy-focused conferences, roundtables, and events.

The IRPP has been described as an “information broker.”[2] The IRPP attempts to broker pertinent policy research between expert researchers, and policy makers and the “educated lay public.” The Institute does not have a large in-house research force, due in part to budget limitations but also because the IRPP is not an issue-specific think tank: it shifts its research foci based on perceived contemporary policy gaps. Although the IRPP actively sought research commissions in its early days, the Board of Directors decided in 1991 that such external commissions compromised research independence and took a stance against them.[3]

The IRPP’s current research agenda is focused on three central issues, according to the Institute’s website: the aging of Canada’s population, its growing diversity and pluralism, and the impact on the Canadian economy of rapidly changing patterns of global trade and production.[4]

The IRPP is financed by an endowment fund, to which federal and provincial governments and the private sector contributed in the early 1970s. The IRPP is a registered charity under the Income Tax Act, and is incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act.[5]

Purpose and Mission[edit]

IRPP’s stated mission is to “improve public policy in Canada by generating research, providing insight and informing debate on current and emerging policy issues facing Canadians and their governments.”[6]

Although Prime Minister Trudeau’s original idea for the Institute was as an independent tool for governments, Ron Ritchie broadened this scope in a commissioned report published in 1969. Ritchie argued the IRPP should provide research and analysis “designed to improve the basis for informed choice and decisions by the public of Canada and its leaders on questions of public policy,” and specified that “its intended audience should rather be opinion leaders, public servants and political leaders,” and not “academics.”[7]

The IRPP aims to focus its research on timely and immediate policy issues. The research agenda defined by second president Michael Kirby aimed to conduct research “where existing policies were inadequate, where the need for change was recognized and where other institutions could not satisfy the need”.[8]

IRPP research has on occasion been released with a direct aim of influencing policy makers. For example, a September 2000 report titled Recommendations to First Ministers was issued a few days before the First Ministers’ Meeting. This report was the product of an eight-person task force of expert practitioners and academics convened by the IRPP to advise on health care policy.[9]

IRPP president Rod Dobell (1984-1991), and presidents preceding him, actively sought research contracts for the Institute from both federal and provincial governments. However, Peter Dobell notes that “since 1991, the IRPP Board of Directors has taken the position that commissioned research threatens to compromise the Institute’s independence and has for that reason discouraged the pursuit of external contracts.”[10]

According to its website, the IRPP aims to be nonpartisan, and serves both French and English Canadian language groups. According to former acting secretary Peter Dobell, the IRPP’s non-partisan position does not aim to discourage strongly stated research conclusions that may be critical of existing policies. The Board of Directors “lets the research speak for itself.”[11]

Governance[edit]

The current Board of Directors has 14 members, hailing from five different provinces. Members of the board are appointed by the Institute. According to Jeremy Leonard, the board is reactive to staff regarding research priorities, rather than directive. The IRPP has a permanent staff of around 15 people.[12]

Presidents are selected by the Board of Directors. In 1980, one board member resigned on principle following the appointment of Gordon Robertson as president - although she approved of Robertson as a candidate. The reason was that, because the IRPP is a national organization, she felt there should be a national competition for the presidency before the appointment was made. The IRPP has since adopted this policy.[13]

According to the IRPP website, the Institute’s Research Fellows “contribute to programs by providing advice and counsel on medium- and long-term strategic research directions and assisting in the development of specific studies.”[14]

The IRPP’s endowment fund is overseen by a Council of Trustees, and is managed by an Investment Committee.

Graham Scott, president of Graham Scott Strategies Inc. and partner emeritus at McMillan LLP, has been chair of the Board since 2012. Past Board chairs of the IRPP have been as follows: Janice McKinnon (2006-2012) Bob Rae (2001–06) Peter White (1997-2001) Donald S. Macdonald (1992–97) Roger Charbonneau (1988–92) Robert Stanfield (1981–88) John Aird (1974–81)

Graham Fox, former strategic policy advisor at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP and former chief of staff to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, has been president of the IRPP since 2011. Past presidents of the IRPP have been as follows: Mel Cappe (2006-2011) Hugh Segal (1999-2006) Monique Jérôme-Forget (1991–98) Rod Dobell (1984–91) Gordon Robertson (1980–83) Michael Kirby (1977–79) Fred Carrothers (1974–76)

Political Orientation[edit]

According to its website, the IRPP is non-partisan. Hilary Clark of TVO’s Inside Agenda blog places the IRPP in the political “centre,”[15] while a report prepared by George Fetherling for the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership characterized the IRPP as “centre-right.”[16] Meanwhile, Evert Lindquist writes that the “Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) claim to be ‘centrist’ and are generally perceived as ‘moderate supporters of the market system, free trade, and limited government.’ The IRPP, however, is often considered to be slightly to the left of the others because of its links to prominent Liberals and the reformist views expressed in some of its publications.”[17]

The IRPP’s Board of Directors and staff have had members with ties to all of the major Canadian political parties, as well as numerous unaffiliated members.[18]

Regarding the IRPP’s plurality, journalist Mary Janigan wrote on the editorial page of the Globe and Mail that “the reason the IRPP is fabulous, is that they allow every idea to enter the fray.” Janigan also observed that she disagreed with half the assertions published in an issue of Policy Options magazine, but enjoyed seeing them “knocked down in the next article.”[19]

Former IRPP president Gordon Robertson noted that the Institute’s non-advocate position could be a public relations disadvantage. Robertson noted in the IRPP’s 1981 annual report that “the Institute by design does not have policy objectives of its own. Hence it cannot hope to achieve the quick and easy attention that can be gained by an ‘advocate’.”[20]

Academic Evert Lindquist has described the IRPP as “Canada’s equivalent to the Brookings Institution.”[21]

Finances[edit]

The IRPP is financed by an endowment fund, to which federal and provincial governments and the private sector contributed in the early 1970s. This endowment fund was conceived of with the goal of ensuring the Institute’s independence. The original plan as articulated by Ron Ritchie specifically excluded contracts from the private sector, although later initiatives by Michael Kirby initiated private sector partnerships for the funding of research programs. The Board of Directors has since taken a position against externally commissioned research, although the IRPP continues to accept unconditional donations.[22]

In 1971, “it was agreed that the Institute would aim for an endowment of $30 million with targets of $10 million each from provincial governments and the private sector. The federal government committed to providing up to $10 million and matching dollar for dollar other funds received. In addition the government agreed to provide $1,000,000 to cover interim operating expenses,” writes Peter Dobell.[23]

With this commitment to the endowment fund, the federal government stipulated that there must be a Council of Trustees of around 50 people in addition to the Board of Directors. This Council would have a representative from each government in Canada, and would take part in the annual election of members of the Board of Directors and be part of the Institute’s governance structure. The Council of Trustees was established to guard against extremism or partisan lobbying on the part of the Institute.[24]

Currently, as well as managing its endowment, the IRPP accepts donations from both public and private donors - to the extent that these donations are unconditional. According to its website, the IRPP strives to invest its own resources in all of its projects and to seek a diversity of donors, so that no single source of funding becomes indispensable.[25]

The IRPP’s endowment fund is currently managed by an Investment Committee. This Committee advises the Board of Directors on investment strategy in order to maintain the real value of the fund (after inflation). As of late 2012, the IRPP’s investment mix was as follow: 70 percent invested in equities (30 percent in Canadian, 20 percent in US, and 20 percent in global) and 30 percent in fixed income.[26]

As of 2014-2015, the IRPP has a policy of withdrawing 4% of the average of the last three years of the Fund’s capital value, measured at fiscal year end, to support its operations. The IRPP’s net assets were valued at $39,514,000 in 2014.[27]

The IRPP undergoes an independent audit on a yearly basis.

Large private donors to the IRPP in its early days included Imperial Oil, the Ford Foundation, and the Donner Canadian Foundation.[28]

History[edit]

The Institute for Research on Public Policy was proposed on September 12, 1968 by Prime Minister Trudeau in the first Speech from the Throne of his newly elected government. Trudeau called for the establishment of “an institute where long-term research and thinking can be carried out into governmental matters of all kinds,” the fruit of whose work would be “available to all governments.”[29]

Trudeau hoped the Institute would “conduct fundamental research both for the federal government and those provincial governments who wish to avail themselves of its services,” and that it would be “independent and autonomous.” Governor General Roland Michener made a similar call for such an “institute” at the 28th Parliament in September 1968.[30]

The federal government then asked Ronald S. Ritchie to prepare a study in this direction. Ritchie was a Toronto businessman (senior vice-president and member of the Board of Directors of Imperial Oil) who had earlier served as executive-director of the Royal Commission on Government Organization, and who was chair of the board of governors of Guelph University.[31]

Ritchie’s report, titled An Institute for Research on Public Policy and submitted to the federal government in December 1969, touched on questions of financing, governance, and the mission of the Institute. He emphasized that the Institute should be a tool for both Canadian language groups, and for both federal and provincial levels of government. Moreover, Ritchie expressed a desire that the Institute be a tool for the Canadian public and for Canadian opinion leaders, public servants, and political leaders, rather than just for government or academics. The Ritchie report also suggested the establishment of an endowment fund to ensure the Institute’s independence from the Government and Treasury Board, as well as recommending that the Institute seek incorporation as a non-profit corporation under the direction of a Board of Directors composed of “a small number of distinguished citizens.”[32]

In the spring of 1971, the Canadian government accepted the core ideas of Ritchie’s report. Then-Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet Michael Pitfield qualified Ritchie’s proposal of an endowment by requiring a Council of Trustees to be established. This Council of Trustees, with about 50 members, would include a representative from each government in Canada, and would annually oversee the election of the members of the Board of Directors as well as overseeing institute governance.[33]

The founding Board of Directors applied for incorporation on March 16, 1972, and the letters patent were approved on April 11. The founding Board of Directors was made up of J.V. Clyne (a Vancouver businessman), Louis Desrochers (a lawyer from Edmonton), Louis Lorrain (a union executive from Montreal), Reverend Joseph MacNeil (bishop of Saint John), the Hon. John Robarts (former premier of Ontario), and Jeanne Sauve (then a broadcaster in Montreal). Peter Dobell served as acting secretary, and Ron Ritchie was elected Chair of the Board.[34]

Outputs[edit]

Policy Options[edit]

Policy Options is IRPP’s flagship publication. It is published 6 times per year, both in print and online. The magazine’s stated goal is to “encourage an informed debate on the important public policy issues of today and tomorrow.”

Policy Options receives submissions from a wide range of sources, and chooses articles for publication based on merit and relevance to the magazine’s goals. These goals include timeliness and addressing perceived policy deficiency. Tom Kent, founding editor of the magazine, established a standard of plain language for the magazine. Thus, the magazine is aimed at an educated lay readership, and attempts to avoid academic jargon. Contributors to the magazine receive no financial compensation.[35]

The first issue of Policy Options was published in March 1980. Tom Kent served as founding chair of the editorial board. Kent initially imagined the magazine as being fairly independent of the IRPP. To this end, he stepped down from the Board of Directors in autumn of 1980 to become the magazine’s editor. This question of the independence of Policy Options has been a source of conflict for the IRPP, as some contended that the IRPP’s research programs should be able to publish their findings in the magazine. Policy Options’ modern issue is often a showcase for IRPP research, but just as often publishes outside work.[36]

An initial goal of founding editor Tom Kent for the magazine was to publish around 25% of articles in French.[37] However, this goal has yet to be achieved. Currently, the magazine publishes roughly 20% of its content in French, and 80% in English. An expansion of French content is a stated goal of the IRPP. According to Peter Dobell, Sarah Fortin was appointed Associate Editor of Policy Options with the specific objective of expanding French content.

Author and National Post journalist Dan Gardner is the current editor of Policy Options. He began his post in January 2015. The previous editors of the magazine are as follows: Bruce Wallace (2012-2014) L. Ian MacDonald (2002-2012) William Watson (1999-2002) Alfred Leblanc (1994-1998) Mathew Horsman (1991-1993) Walter Stewart (1987-1990) Tom Kent (1980-1987)

Policy Options reached a peak print circulation in 1981 of 4,000 copies. Currently, most of Policy Options’ readership is online (its web page had 183,479 views in 2013-2014), although it maintains a substantial print run. Policy Options also runs a blog, produces video segments of author interviews, and has produced podcasts.[38]

IRPP Insight[edit]

This publication series, launched in 2013-2014, aims to provide “analysis of the issues that dominate the headlines”.[39]

Other Initiatives[edit]

The IRPP also publishes refereed research. In 2013-2014, the IRPP produced or co-produced 17 publications. Each study is sent to elected officials, senior public servants, experts and other stakeholders who have an interest in specific research areas. All published IRPP material other than books is made available free online.[40]

According to the IRPP’s website, their active research initiatives are as follows:

Skills and Labour Market Policy, led by Tyler Meredith. This research program “aims to provide an integrated and long-term analytical perspective on the policy challenges that will arise over the next decade as Canadian labour markets evolve in response to population ageing, technological change and evolving skill needs. The current research agenda focuses on the following themes: - Assessing ongoing and emerging changes in skill supply/demand and the nature of work - Adapting Canada’s skills policy framework to this new labour market context - Restructuring Canada’s income and employment-support programs to better address the changing needs of workers, the unemployed and businesses.”

International Trade and Global Commerce, led by Stephen Tapp. This research program “examines how changes in global trade and investment, technology, and economic and geopolitical power are affecting Canada and what this means for policy”. The objective is to develop a forward-looking, medium-term policy agenda that will enable Canada to engage more effectively in the global economy. The current research program focuses on: - presenting new empirical evidence for Canada using firm-level and value-added trade data; - applying new perspectives from frontier academic research on global value chains and firm-level trade theory; and - exploring the policy implications of this work for trade negotiations, foreign investment, services, regulation, digital trade and innovation.

Faces of Aging, led by Nicole F. Bernier. This research program “examines [the aging of Canada’s population] and its implications for public policy and society at large. It focuses on the following themes: - Creating age-friendly communities in Canada - Retirement income adequacy and pension reform - Funding and delivery of healthcare and social services - Social and economic implications of caregiving - Normative, ethical and legal challenges associated with dependency and the end of life”

Diversity, Immigration and Integration, led by F. Leslie Seidle. This research program “focuses on the following themes: - Examining the factors that affect immigrants’ labour market and economic outcomes and policy options to encourage improvement - Assessing the implications of Canada’s growing reliance on temporary foreign workers - Analysing the factors at play in immigrants’ social integration - Exploring pathways to civic and political participation and integration of Canada’s immigrant communities”

Income Inequality, led by France St-Hilaire. “Under a joint initiative with the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network (CLSRN), the IRPP has gathered some of the country’s leading experts to take a comprehensive look at the question of rising income inequality.”

Recent past research programs have included: The Canadian North Canadian Options in North America National Security and Military Interoperability Health and Public Policy International Democratic Development Defence, Diplomacy and Development Canadian Priorities Agenda Economic Growth and Prosperity Aboriginal Quality of Life Family Policy Strengthening Canadian Democracy Canadian Federalism Security and Democracy[41]

The IRPP also organizes conferences, roundtables and panel discussions. Their aim is “to foster open exchanges among stakeholders, academics, policy-makers and the general public.” In 2013-2014, the IRPP held 16 such events. In addition to public debate, the IRPP engages in private debate. For example, in March 2014, the IRPP partnered with the Privy Council Office to explore policy issues in Canadian federalism.[42]

Influence[edit]

The 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index run by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania ranks the IRPP 9th in the “Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada” category.[43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  2. ^ Leonard, Jeremy. "Institute for Research on Public Policy." McGill Careers Day. University Affairs. 11 July 2012. Lecture.
  3. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  4. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  5. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  6. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  7. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  8. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  9. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  10. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  11. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  12. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  13. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  14. ^ "Web Archives." Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). Web. 4 June 2015. <http://archive.irpp.org/index_en.php>.
  15. ^ "Mapping Canadian Think Tanks." TVO. Web. 4 June 2015.
  16. ^ Fetherling, George. "TANKED: CANADIAN THINK TANKS AND THE DAILY PRESS." Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. 1 June 2007. Web. 4 June 2015.
  17. ^ Lindquist, Evert. "“Canada’s Equivalent to the Brookings Institution”." Think Tanks across Nations: A Comparative Approach. Manchester: Manchester UP ;, 1998. Print.
  18. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  19. ^ Fetherling, George. "TANKED: CANADIAN THINK TANKS AND THE DAILY PRESS." Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. 1 June 2007. Web. 4 June 2015.
  20. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  21. ^ Lindquist, Evert. "“Canada’s Equivalent to the Brookings Institution”." Think Tanks across Nations: A Comparative Approach. Manchester: Manchester UP ;, 1998. Print.
  22. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  23. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  24. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  25. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  26. ^ "Annual Report 2014." Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/annual-report-2014.pdf>.
  27. ^ "Annual Report 2014." Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/annual-report-2014.pdf>.
  28. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  29. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  30. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  31. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  32. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  33. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  34. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  35. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  36. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  37. ^ Peter, Dobell. IRPP: The First 30 Years. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. Print.
  38. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  39. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  40. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  41. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  42. ^ "Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)." Web. 4 June 2015. <http://irpp.org/>.
  43. ^ McGann, James. "2012 GLOBAL GO TO THINK TANKS REPORT AND POLICY ADVICE." THINK TANKS AND CIVIL SOCIETIES PROGRAM. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, 2012. Web. 4 June 2015.

External links[edit]