Canadian Studies Book Celebration

January 22, 2014

Thank you, Donald [Ainslie], for that very kind introduction. Thanks also, to you and the leadership team here at University College, for your outstanding work. And special thanks to Emily Gilbert, director of the Canadian Studies program, for her leadership, and in particular for launching this great initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to see so many colleagues here this afternoon. The wonderful response to this new annual event is a sign not only that it was a very good idea. It shows us just how much is going on at the University of Toronto in the study of Canada.

The invitation for this event says that “the world needs more Canada”. I agree, not least because Bono said so. But I would extend that, to say that Canada needs more Canada, too. We are fortunate to live in one of the most successful countries in the world, and we have a great deal to offer.

But, following the maxim, “know thyself”, we need to understand the factors contributing to our success. And we need to understand where we’ve failed and where we could do better.

There is simply no better place in the country to do all of this, than here at the University of Toronto – by any measure, Canada’s leading university, located in the world’s most diverse and vibrant urban region, with an unparalleled breadth and depth of disciplinary and interdisciplinary excellence.

This gathering represents brilliantly that breadth and depth. Looking at the list of publications we’re celebrating today, we see authors from all 3 campuses, 8 faculties, and 20 departments and inter-disciplinary units. It’s truly amazing.

Clearly, Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto is not limited to our wonderful Canadian Studies program, but extends across the entire University. And Canadianists at U of T lead their peers at all other Canadian universities – indeed, since 2000, U of T scholars have authored 40 per cent of the top 100 most highly-cited papers published in journals with ‘Canada’ or ‘Canadian’ in their names.

As Donald mentioned, I am honoured to hold the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies. Dr. C. Warren Goldring worked to inspire passionate discussion among Canadians about what it means to be Canadian. Ladies and gentlemen, you are helping to lead that passionate discussion – and U of T, and Canada, are better for it.

Now, I’m pleased to turn over the podium to Dr. Emily Gilbert, director of the Canadian Studies program at University College. I’m proud to say that Emily is a fellow geographer – and that, once upon a time, I was her faculty mentor when she was an assistant professor.

Emily specializes in the study of culture, politics, and economics as they relate to Canadian identity. Her current research revolves around issues related to citizenship, borders, security, the economy, nation-states, and globalization. It was Emily’s stroke of genius to launch this celebration, and she is doing a phenomenal job as director of Canadian Studies.

Colleagues, please welcome Dr. Emily Gilbert.