April McLaughlin Lunch Talks discuss refugee and asylum policy, Canadian culture policy-making

The McLaughlin College Lunch Talks series continues in April in a virtual format via Zoom. This month features four events, taking place April 6, 7, 8 and 13, which will discuss a wide range of topics in public policy.

Students who attend six or more lunch talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

April 6 – Administrative Discretion, Public Policy and the Challenges of Legality, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Geneviève Cartier

Geneviève Cartier

Democratically elected representatives are not the only ones who contribute to the definition of public policy. Large parts of the executive branch and the public administration also play a role in this regard, through discretionary powers delegated to them. In this lecture, Geneviève Cartier will present the challenges posed by the legitimacy of administrative discretion in a democratic regime based on the rule of law and suggest ways to address them.

Cartier is a full professor at the Faculty of Law of the Université de Sherbrooke, which she joined in 1989. She teaches and pursues her research in the fields of administrative law and the theoretical foundations of law. She is particularly interested in the discretionary power of public administration, and she has also studied the relationship between constitutionalism, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and administrative law.

Register for the talk here.

April 7 – The Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) and its Upcoming 2021 Conference: What Utopias Can Teach Us, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Bruno Dupeyron

Bruno Dupeyron

After a brief overview of CARFMS and its main activities, presenter Bruno Dupeyron will explore the main theme of its 2021 biennial conference, “Utopias as Practices: Refugee Protection Regimes and Attainable Futures.”

Nowadays, utopia is commonly interpreted as an imaginary place, an idealized or visionary political or social system. The adjective “utopian” is often used to swiftly reject proposals for social change, but it can also be used to conceive emancipatory projects in periods of urgency. Whether imaginary worlds or potential realities are seen negatively or positively, the strains between utopia and practice are constant.

The field of refugee and migration studies vividly illustrates “utopias as practices,” for instance with the Nansen passport or the 1951 Convention. The current refugee protection regime embodies legacies, aspirations and compromises immediately after the Second World War. Yet, it is essential to approach critically its Eurocentrism, state resistances and growing fragmentation at multiple scales in order to propose viable alternatives, anchored into practical realities.

Dupeyron is a professor and graduate chair at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), University of Regina Campus. His major research interests are border and immigration issues, using political sociology and comparative perspectives.

Register for the talk here.

April 8 – Asylum in the EU and Rule of Law Backsliding, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Lilian Tsourdi

Lilian Tsourdi

In this presentation, Professor Lilian Tsourdi will examine the links between the state of asylum provision in the EU and challenges to the rule of law. Fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law are understood as the bedrock of European societies. Yet recent years have seen the EU plagued by populism, racism and xenophobia. This has been linked with challenges to the rule of law in some member states. Asylum provision and refugee protection is another urgent challenge facing the EU. Three main problems have emerged. First, a persistent implementation gap has eroded mutual trust between member states. Second, protection obligations have often been deflected, with the EU institutionalizing containment and externalizing its relations with non-EU States. Thirdly, fundamental rights violations in some member states have been characterized as systemic, or reaching the level of a humanitarian emergency. To what extent can the implementation gap, fundamental rights violations, and the state of asylum provision in the EU generally be considered one of the many ‘faces’ of rule of law backsliding?

Tsourdi is an assistant professor and Dutch Research Council grantee (NWO VENI) at the Law Faculty of Maastricht University, as well as a visiting professor at Sciences Po Paris. She is a member of the Academic Network for Legal Studies on Immigration and Asylum in Europe, the ‘Odysseus Network’. As a current VENI grantee of the Dutch Research Council she is researching the steering and solidarity potential of EU migration funding.

Register for the talk here.

April 13 – Massey Report at 70: Current Impasses and Prospects of Canadian Cultural Policy, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Zainub Verjee

Zainub Verjee

The final report of Canada’s Massey Commission, the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, was released in 1951. Often referred to as the Massey Report, this document provided the armature of what would become a state-defined national culture in Canada and gave birth to the idea of Canadian content. This year marks its 70th anniversary. Despite its ubiquitous presence, art and culture is often in the backwaters of public policy discourse. Also, over the decades, the coherence of the domain of arts and culture from a policy perspective has seen a fractured narrative.

We have seen a widening rupture between ‘art’ and ‘culture’. The policy trends for the sector have been affected by broader operational definitions of arts and culture. Given art, culture and power are re-aligning in the pandemic context, presenter Zainub Verjee will review the history, consequences and prospects of policy-making in the art and culture domain.

Verjee has a formidable reputation as an artist, writer, critic, cultural administrator and public intellectual. She has dedicated her life to developing Canada’s contemporary culture through legislation, policy and institutions. She has held positions at the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, City of Mississauga and Western Front. Her work has been shown internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Venice Biennale. Currently, she is the executive director of Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries, Toronto.

Register for the talk here.

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