Nov. 5, 2018

Leading social researcher Frank Graves speaks at School of Public Policy fundraising event

Second annual event honours entrepreneurs and philanthropists Nancy Southern and Tom d’Aquino
From left: Keynote speaker Frank Graves, award recipient Nancy Southern, MC Danielle Smith, and award recipient Tom d’Aquino.
From left: Keynote speaker Frank Graves, award recipient Nancy Southern, MC Danielle Smith, and awar School of Public Policy

On Oct. 24, The School of Public Policy honoured recipients Nancy Southern and Thomas (Tom) d’Aquino as distinguished policy fellows for their lifetime commitment to Canadian public policy. The second annual Distinguished Policy Fellow Awards Dinner was held at the Sheraton Suites Eau Claire, where the school welcomed more than 150 guests for dinner and a keynote speech by pollster Frank Graves, president and founder of EKOS Research Associates.

The Distinguished Policy Fellowships are awarded on an annual basis to individuals who exhibit a distinguished record as leaders in public policy research, education, development, implementation, or advocacy.

  • Above, from left: Keynote speaker Frank Graves, award recipient Nancy Southern, MC Danielle Smith, and award recipient Tom d’Aquino.

Award recipients Nancy Southern, chair and CEO of ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Limited, and Tom d’Aquino, chairman of Thomas d’Aquino Capital and chairman and CEO of Intercounsel Ltd., also delivered speeches commenting on the current turbulent times for today’s businesses and wider society.

Nancy Southern also serves as executive vice-president of Spruce Meadows, and holds positions with a number of Canadian and U.S. organizations. In 2016, Southern was included in Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women outside of the U.S. In addition to her business leadership, Southern has long played a leading role in advocating on social issues of global importance — most notably, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the role of women in business.

Tom d’Aquino is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, corporate director, author, and educator. From 1981 to 2009, he served as chief executive, president and member of the Board of Directors of the Business Council of Canada. Acknowledged as one of Canada’s most influential thinkers and strategists, d’Aquino has chalked up four decades of achievement in shaping fiscal, taxation, international trade, energy, and environmental policies.

In a speech titled The New Populism: Values, Economics, and Democracy, Frank Graves — one of Canada’s leading social researchers — referred to the results of a number of longitudinal studies to show that the rise of populism and polarizing beliefs that we see today did not develop in a vacuum. In fact, a number of factors contributed to the current state, including beliefs that we have reached the end of progress and fears of a more dangerous world. However, Graves also indicated that “overall attitudinal shifts suggest Canada is pivoting open,” pointing to significant fault lines that now exist along social class, education, and gender divides. 

The awards were presented by Master of Public Policy alumni, who spoke about the benefits of having financial support while undertaking their degrees.

“I joined the MPP program to broaden my perspectives and understand the subtleties between regulations, government relations and policy-making. The program has improved my understanding of these fields and, perhaps most importantly, it has given me an appreciation for the complex nature of public policy issues,” said Neuckzi Mathurin, MPP’18.

Jennifer Rumas, MPP’12, echoed that sentiment: “Being an MPP student was truly a rewarding experience … It broadened my understanding of economics in the real world and propelled my career, giving me the skills to more directly support our business strategy. It allowed me to create a path for the career I always wanted.”

Thanking the audience for their support of The School and the MPP program, Dr. PG Forest, director of The School and James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair in Public Policy, said, “The School’s crown jewel is our Master of Public Policy program. We recruit based on talent and are determined that cost will not be a barrier to entry for new students. This event supports what may be the highest impact activity of the School — graduating these future leaders. In order to attract the most diverse pool of top students, we need a robust scholarship program.” 

All proceeds from the event will go toward Master of Public Policy scholarships.

About the Master of Public Policy Program

The goal of the Master of Public Policy program is to train policy professionals for leadership positions in government and the private sector. Our students develop a comprehensive approach that enables them to collaborate with senior policy leaders from government, business and the community to address issues in a practical, focused and global manner. The program fosters in students an appreciation of the importance of effective institutions, efficient regulation and the role that markets play in open, democratic societies. Learn more about The School of Public Policy.