Since 1995, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) has held an annual national conference dedicated to an issue of importance to Canadians. This year’s bilingual conference, taking place in Montreal, will be on the theme of The Cities We Need, a subject Canadians are talking about now more than ever.
Cities have moved to the centre of the policy agenda in Canada. There are good and bad reasons for this.
On the positive side, Canadian cities seem better than any other level of government at spurring citizen engagement, harnessing technological innovation and devising creative responses to problems. Proposals for creative cities, smart cities, green cities, sustainable cities and wired cities represent bold new thinking which often seems lacking at the provincial or federal levels. In countries where national governments often seem paralyzed, cities are busy inventing the future. Polls show that Canadians identify more with their cities than with the nation as a whole.
On the negative side, key Canadian cities have faced major crisis of governance in recent years. From the media spectacle of Toronto’s City Hall through the string of corruption scandals in Montreal, we wonder how cities will get the governments they need or deserve. Canada’s constitutional arrangements give provinces ultimate control over the status of cities, with effects that many deride but no one seems able to change.
We’re inviting some of the leading activists, scholars, journalists, and experts of all kinds to talk about what our cities need, today. We will look at topics as varied as digital issues, infrastructure, and 24-hour cities, as well as a panel of Mayors from cities, big and small, from across Canada.
Some key questions will be asked:
• Have cities become our main laboratories for public policy innovation?
• Can our cities be smarter?
• Do cities have the fiscal and political power they need?
• Can cities solve problems we used to think were federal problems — like environmental sustainability, inequality, the quality of our workforce and our presence on the world stage?
We hope Canadians from all walks of life can join us to be a part of this important discussion.
The Cities We Need takes place at the Phi Centre, located at 407 St. Pierre Street in Old Montreal, February 19 and 20, 2015.
To learn more, or to register, click here.
Guest Author Bio
Elisabeth Faure is the Communications Administrator for the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).