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Annual Public Policy Lecture

A highlight event of the academic year, McLaughlin College’s Annual Public Policy Lecture brings renowned expert guests to York for keynote presentations on contemporary issues. Past lecture topics have included health care reform, ethics for government officials and the role of the constitutional court in modern democracy. Gain fresh insight into public policy and develop your critical-thinking skills at the same time.

Deborah Anker profile photo

The Development of American Gender Asylum Law; Cross Border Collaboration Between US and Canadian NGOs

Monday, November 29, 2021

The last twenty years have witnessed the development of the body of U.S. gender asylum law, or asylum claims of women subject to persecution.  Forms of such gender-based persecution include sexual and related violence of women because of their gender, by, for example, proto-state transnational gang members, and intimate partners. For years, these claims of women were ignored (indeed lawyers did not even present such claims) so the persecution stories of women were suppressed, not even articulated within the asylum system. This changed beginning in the 1990s, in part due to the influence of the international women’s human rights movement, which highlighted violence against women as a human rights issue, and especially due to the Canadian leadership role in this regard. In the U.S., advocates and researchers played a critical role in bringing these stories to light and in successfully lobbying for recognition that gender itself could be a protected status and more recently, that resistance to sexual violence could constitute a political opinion.  In the 1990s Canada was a leader in this regard, establishing a human rights framework for interpreting refugee law and issuing the first guidelines for adjudication of gender asylum claims. This legacy, however, is in jeopardy. The U.S., among other policies, regularly detains asylum seekers, including women, forcing them to remain in Mexico in violation of fundamental treaty obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and subjecting them to increased risk of sexual and other violence. Canada has deflected its protection obligations, designating the U.S. as a “safe country” to return refugees, under a treaty between the two countries.  The lecture will discuss these developments, urging Canada to again take a leadership role, which is very much needed in these times.

DEBORAH E. ANKER is Clinical Professor of Law and the Founder of the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). Professor Anker is one of the most widely known asylum practitioners, teachers and scholars in the United States and a pioneer in the development of clinical legal education in the immigration field, training students in direct representation of refugees and creating a foundation for clinics at law schools around the U.S.  Author of the leading and annually updated treatise, Law of Asylum in the United States, Anker has co-drafted groundbreaking Gender Asylum Guidelines and amicus curiae briefs.  Her historical work on U.S. ratification and implementation of the UN Refugee Convention in The Forty Year Crisis is a classic that has shaped the interpretation of U.S. asylum law, especially in an internationalist direction.

Professor Anker’s work has been cited by federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court as well as by various international tribunals.  Professor Anker has received numerous awards including the Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA), the AILA Founder’s Award for the Women’s Refugee Project, and the AILA Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for excellence in advancing the practice of immigration law.  She has also received the CARECEN Award from the Central American Refugee Center and the Massachusetts Governor’s New American Appreciation Award.  Anker was designated a Woman of Justice by the Massachusetts Bar Association, and in 2011, she was elected as a Fellow to the American Bar Foundation.   Most recently, she received AILA’s Arthur C. Helton Memorial Human Rights Award for the groundbreaking work of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program. 

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Head of McLaughlin College, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and its Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) Program.

Past Events

Paying for healthcare, investing in health: Options after COVID-19
Thursday, November 12, 2020

In September 2020, Canada’s premiers requested that the federal government raise its contribution from 22% to 35% of existing provincial/territorial healthcare outlays – the latest episode in six decades of disagreements over how to share the costs of Medicare. Meanwhile, there is pressure on governments to support improved coverage for drugs, dental services, and mental health care. The toll of the COVID-19 epidemic has rekindled debate about funding and regulation of long-term care and nursing homes – and focused attention on social interventions to improve health equity. Dr. Naylor will review the history and consequences of inter-jurisdictional gridlock for both expansion of public cove rage and successful health care reforms.

Dr. C. David Naylor is co-chair of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto where he served as President (2005-13) and Dean of Medicine (1999-2005). Earlier, Dr. Naylor was founding director of clinical epidemiology at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto (1990-96), and founding CEO (19 91-98) of Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). He has co-authored over 300 scholarly publications spanning quantitative methods, medical history, public policy, medical education, and health economics, as well as clinical and health services research in most fields of medicine. Dr. Naylor was a two-term inaugural governor of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (2000-04). His public service also includes chairing three national panels: Canada's review of public health after the 2003 SARS outbreak, the federal advisory panel on healthcare inn ovation (2014-15), and the federal review of support for extramural science and research (2016-17). Dr. Naylor is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and an international member of the US National Academy of Medicine.

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Head of McLaughlin College, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and its Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) Program.

The Role of the Constitutional Court in a Modern Democracy
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The lecture explored the role of the constitutional court in a modern democracy and the heightened role of such courts in a federation like Canada. Looking abroad, the lecture asked what Canada can do to enhance the role of constitutional courts, the rule of law and democracy beyond its borders.

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE BEVERLEY MCLACHLIN served as Chief Justice of Canada from 2000 to mid-December 2017. In June 2018 she was appointed to the Order of Canada as a recipient of its highest accolade, Companion of the Order of Canada. She has received over 35 honorary degrees from universities in Canada and abroad, and numerous other honours and awards. Ms. McLachlin works as an arbitrator and mediator in Canada and internationally. Ms. McLachlin also sits as a Justice of Singapore’s International Commercial Court and the Hong Kong Final Court of Appeal.

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Head of McLaughlin College, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and its Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) Program.

The Federal Approach to Ethics from an Evolutive Perspective- key Milestones, Past and Future
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mr. Dion provided an overview of the major steps and causes of the evolution, in the last fifty years, of regimes governing elected and appointed officials at the federal level and will attempt to predict what significant additional refinements should be added in the first half of this century. He highlighted the raison d’ëtre of such measures and the main impacts they have on officials.

Mario Dion was named Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on January 9, 2018, foll owing a long and distinguished career with the Government of Canada. After graduating with a law degree in 1979, Mr. Dion immediately joined the federal government as legal advisor and after 1988 occupied several senior positions at the Correctional Service of Canada, the Department of Justice and the Privy Council Office before being appointed Deputy Minister of Indian Residential Schools Resolution in 2003, Commissioner for Public Sector Integrity in 2010 and the Chair of Canada’s two largest administrative tribunals.

Co-sponsored by the Office of the College Head, McLaughlin College, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and the Master of Public Policy and Law (MPPAL).

Sheldon Levy is a former Vice-President of York University and the University of Toronto, and President of Sheridan College and Ryerson University. He is now the Deputy Minister of Ontario's Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
McLaughlin College Junior Common Room (014 McLaughlin College)

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Master, McLaughlin College, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and the Master of Public Policy and Law (MPPAL).

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