The Literary Review of Canada

Past LRC Events

Thinking Forward
The 40th Anniversary Max Bell Essays and Lectures

In this series, four exceptional Canadians will each produce an essay and lecture about a public policy issue critical to the country’s future. It was announced in celebration of the foundation’s 40th anniversary, and in honour of the thousands of charities across the country that work every day to improve Canadian society.

"Demand Better"

May 23rd, 2013

Policy leader Michael Cleland discussed why the usual debates over energy supply, from wind to oil sands, distract Canadians from our greenest opportunities.


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The LRC Presents...

bigideasThis series of free public discourse events, held at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, gathers readers, writers and thinkers for evenings of lively conversation on a wide range of topics. We hope you'll be able to join us!

Presented in partnership with Big Ideas, a weekly showcase of public intellectual culture on TVO, Saturday & Sunday at 5:00pm.

"We Can't Drink Oil"

May 6th, 2013

Environmental journalist Andrew Nikiforuk drew upon stories about the extreme water demands of Alberta's tar sands, hydraulic fracturing and the impact of ruptured pipelines to outline the scale of assault on our water resources.

"Fighting for Cyberspace"

April 1st, 2013

Ron Deibert, Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab, drew on first-hand experience to outline what is at stake in the battle for the future of cyberspace.

"Thinking Beyond Aid"

February 27th, 2013

Dr. Samantha Nutt, Executive Director of War Child Canada, drew on her extensive experience in war-torn regions around the world to discuss the human cost of conflict - and what can be done about it.

"Immigration Sickness"

February 4th, 2013

Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Medical Director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, argued for an evidence-based approach to choosing new Canadians, in an event presented with the generous support of the RBC Foundation.

"Can we catch up with Angola?"

January 8, 2013

Madelaine Drohan, Canada correspondent for The Economist and author of The 9 Habits of Successful Resource Economies, made the case for using sovereign wealth funds to save resource windfalls for tomorrow.


December 3, 2012

In this talk, Lt. Gen. (retired) Andrew Leslie drew on his thirty-five years of experience commanding the Canadian army to dissect the challenges and opportunities of reinventing the Armed Forces in an age of austerity.

SENATOR HUGH SEGAL: "Fighting Poverty"

November 12, 2012

In this talk, Senator Hugh Segal (Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds) dissected the costs and consequences of poverty in Canada—and offered new strategies and ideas for confronting poverty-related issues directly.

JOHN HANCOCK: "Our Capitalist Revolution"

October 1, 2012

In this talk by John Hancock, the Senior Counsellor at the World Trade Organization discussed how global capitalism is delivering a creative, unequal, and out-of-control world - just as we demanded.

ANDREW COYNE: "Post-Economic Politics in Canada"

May 14, 2012

In this talk by Andrew Coyne, the award-winning writer and columnist for the National Post discussed how the state of the economy, contrary to popular belief, will not be the defining issue in our public policy debates.

Watch video of this event.

GRAEME GIBSON: "Echoes of a Working Eden"

April 2, 2012

In this talk by Graeme Gibson, the ardent naturalist and acclaimed author discussed why we should be spending more time in Nature, and the damage done to us when we deprive ourselves of its lessons and powers.

Watch video of this event.

DR. IAIN McGILCHRIST: "Our Mind at War"

March 5, 2012

In this talk by Dr. Iain McGilchrist, the renowned British psychiatrist and author discussed why the battle between our right and left hemispheres has shaped everything from our notions happiness to the development of civilizations.

Watch video of this event.

JOHN DUFFY: "The Emerging Politics of Technology"

February 6, 2012

In this talk by John Duffy, the Liberal strategist and principal at StrategyCorp discussed the political (and policy) impact of increasingly fast-paced technological change.

Watch video of this event.

JOHN IBBITSON: "Our Brave New Canada"

December 5, 2011

In this talk, veteran Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson argues that Conservative victory in the May 2, 2011 federal election marked the collapse of a once-epic alliance that consolidated power in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, led by political, media, cultural, academic and business elites from these and other cities along the St. Lawrence watershed - what he calls "The Laurentian Consensus."

Watch video of this event.

ROBERT J. SAWYER: "Humanity 2.0"

November 21, 2011

In this talk by Robert J. Sawyer, Canada's leading science-fiction author and internationally respected futurist, he discussed what it will mean to be human in a future shaped, not by ethical or cultural precepts, but by our fast-changing technological advances.

Watch video of this event.

ALEX HIMELFARB: How Did "Taxes" Become a Bad Word?

October 12, 2011

In this talk by Dr. Alex Himelfarb, he asked how "taxes" become a bad word in Canada. Was it our loss of trust in the government or, in one another, or does it run even deeper: a loss of trust in the future? Himelfarb went on to talk about what he thinks politicians - right, left, centre - refuse to tell us: We will have to pay more in taxes, but we'll also have to change the way we think about what our future is worth.

This event was presented with the generous support of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), with introductory remarks to be provided by Bruce Campbell (Executive Director, CCPA).

Watch video of this event.

JEFFREY MELANSON :"The Evolving Role of the Arts in Canada"

May 24, 2011

A lively discussion on the arts' changing role in Canada today - and where they're headed - with Jeffrey Melanson. Melanson is the Executive Director and co-CEO of Canada's National Ballet School. He is a trustee with the National Guild of Community Schools for the Arts (U.S.) and was the first arts leader to be appointed one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 for 2009. In 2011, he accepted the role of special advisor on arts and culture to Mayor Rob Ford.

This event was presented with the generous support of TD Bank Group, and introductory remarks will be provided by Scott Mullin (Vice President, Community Relations, TD Bank Group).

Watch video of this event.

ARMINE YALNIZYAN: "Economics, Equality and Democracy"

April 4, 2011

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" - that’s just the way life is, right? In fact, Canada’s history shows that increasing inequality is not inevitable. For most of the 20th century, inequality decreased in Canada, and we grew into a prosperous, middle class society that held out a noble promise: with a little hard work and education, we all could aspire to a better life. The last three decades, though, have produced a tectonic economic shift— the middle is being squeezed, the poor are losing ground, and the rich are taking a bigger share of growth than at any time since the 1920s. What does this mean for our future well-being? Yalnizyan takes us on a tour of the research, connecting the dots between economics, inequality and democracy— challenging the very notion of the Canadian dream.

Watch video of this event.

MICHAEL ADAMS: "The Boomer Impact"

March 8, 2011

Award-winning author and pollster Michael Adams draws on two decades' worth of data to describe his generation's thoughts on topics ranging from retirement and spirituality to sexuality and funeral plans, as Canada's Baby Boomers (more than 9 million men and women) enter the second half of their adult lives. Adams divides Boomers into four social-values "tribes," and will outline each tribe's approach to health, technology, family, consumption, spirituality and politics, as well as each tribe's projected impact on society. The trends and insights Adams finds are invaluable to policy makers, human resource professionals, and anyone seeking to understand where Baby Boomers - and the rest of us - are headed in the years to come.

Watch video of this event.

ANDREW HEINTZMAN: "Our Green Economy"

November 15, 2010

Author and venture capitalist Andrew Heintzman profiles innovative business leaders at the forefront of the expanding "green economy." These cutting-edge entrepreneurs are developing environmentally responsible technologies and products for export to the global marketplace, using the forces of capitalism as catalysts for broad social change. Introductory remarks by Toby Heaps, editor of Corporate Knights magazine.

Watch video of this event.

PETER C. NEWMAN: "Telling Tales on Politicians"

October 4, 2010

Peter C. Newman tells stories and share his insights about how he captures the essence of a politician on the page. Mr. Newman has sold over 2 million books chronicling Canada’s most ambitious politicians, and more of his work is featured in the October issue of the LRC.

Watch video of this event.

Literate Lunches

LRC's Literate Lunches feature good food and good conversation with Canadian authors. The series is presented by the Literary Review of Canada in partnership with the Gardiner Museum.

JAN WONG: Out of the Blue

September 17, 2012

Sismondo's agile prose and telling anecdotes offer a resounding toast to taprooms, taverns, saloons, speakeasies, and the local hangout where everybody knows your name.

JOHN FRASER: The Secret of the Crown

June 27, 2012

Fraser explores the media's insatiable appetite for the Royal family as the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, Prince Charles awaits his turn at the throne and a new generation of Royals carry the Crown into the future.

CHRISTINE SISMONDO: America Walks Into a Bar

July 17, 2012

The inspiring yet harrowing tale of her subsequent struggle with workplace-caused depression from which she emerged with true grace and a new insight into "…Recovery, Redemption, and Yes, Happiness."

MOLLY PEACOCK: The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72

May 31, 2012

Peacock, a noted poet and memoirist, shares Mrs. Delany's floral images, connecting them to objects within the Gardiner collection and discuss how the witty, talented, profound Delany took her craft into art.


April 23, 2012

Eksteins offers an unusual narrative of Weimar Germany, the rise of Hitler, and more broadly speaking, an exploration of our fascination with Vincent van Gogh.

RICHARD GWYN: Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times, Volume 2, 1867-1891

March 7, 2012

His newest biography lays bare Macdonald's political and private successes and failures from the Louis Riel Rebellion to the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway and subsequent Pacific Scandal.

ANDREW WESTOLL: The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

February 29, 2012

Andrew vividly recounts his adventures as a volunteer caregiver to a special family of retired biomedical rersearch chimpanzees.

Partnership Events

TYLER COWEN: The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick and Will (Eventually) Feel Better

September 11, 2012
Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto

The New York Times best-selling author and economist in a special Toronto appearance. Followed by a discussion with Andrew Coyne. Presented by the U of T School of Public Policy and Governance and MASS LBP in partnership with the Literary Review of Canada and the Ideas Institute.