Building an adaptable country

Alasdair Roberts | August 2, 2023

From June 12 to 14, 2023, the Institute on Governance (IOG) and the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation at the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) partenered to convene Resilient Institutions: Learning from Canada’s COVID-19 Pandemica conference on making public institutions and governance more agile.

As the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has recently demonstrated, countries that want to thrive in this turbulent century must be adaptable. In this keynote address at the Resilient Institutions conference, Alasdair Roberts, professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar at the Canada School of Public Service and a visiting professor at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, examines Canada’s track record on adaptability and considers how the country can respond more effectively to new conditions and ideas.

Despite the many merits of the Canadian approach to governing, adaptability has come under threat in recent years. Short-term politics have increasingly taken the place of forward thinking, technological change has disrupted the public sphere, and the public service has become less nimble. Taking account of these challenges, Roberts proposes a program of reform that is focused on the country’s flexibility for the dangerous decades ahead.

This episode of the podcast is a recording of Alasdair Roberts’ keynote address at the IRPP’s Resilient Institutions: Learning from Canada’s COVID-19 Pandemic conference, which was co-hosted with the Institute on Governance and took place in Ottawa from June 12 to 14, 2023.