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Posted June 22, 2011


Canada’s First University Program in Political Management Announces Key Faculty Appointments

Ottawa – Students in Carleton University’s Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management – the country’s first rigorous intellectual training ground for political staff, strategists, tacticians and advocates – will be taught by an accomplished team of faculty who combine research and teaching qualifications with political experience at every level, from constituency work to the Prime Minister’s Office, in government and in opposition.

“The business of democracy just got better,” said John ApSimon, dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs. “We are thrilled with the quality of the appointments announced today. Their mix of academic, research and practical political experience will be invaluable to students entering the program.”

There will be four core faculty members of the Riddell program.

Paul Wilson will join Carleton from the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, where he has served as director of policy since 2009, and also served as acting chief of staff during the last election campaign. He has been director of policy to Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, senior special adviser to Monte Solberg, Minister of HRSDC, senior policy adviser to Vic Toews, both as President of Treasury Board and Minister of Justice. From 1997 to 2001 he was director of research in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.

From 2002 until 2006, Dr. Wilson (PhD, Queen’s) taught “Canadian Governmental Leadership” and “Ethics and Public Policy” in the Laurentian Leadership Centre of Trinity Western University, where he was executive director, overseeing an internship program in which students were placed with a variety of agencies (parliamentary, governmental, embassies, NGOs, media) in Ottawa. A capstone element of the Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management will be a 10-week internship placement with a political office, party or campaign.

Stephen Azzi (PhD, Waterloo) brings to the program a decade of teaching and research experience at Carleton and Laurentian, where he specialized in Canadian political history and leadership. He is the author of Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism (McGill-Queen’s University Press). His weighing of prime ministerial success was most recently featured in the June 20 issue of Macleans.

Dr. Azzi has extensive political experience, including positions as executive or special assistant to four federal MPs, campaign work for Stéphane Dion in his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party, and membership on the executive board of the Ontario wing of the Liberal Party of Canada. He also spent three years as a policy officer and intelligence analyst with the Department of National Defence, which included speech writing for the minister.

Jennifer Robson, who has taught “Social Power in Canadian Politics” in Carleton’s Department of Political Science, is a skilled and prolific researcher who has served as senior policy research officer for the Policy Research Initiative, was director of policy for the non-profit Social and Enterprise Development Innovations, and senior adviser to the Task Force on Financial Literacy for the federal Department of Finance. She has been a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen’s University.

She was chair of the Task Force on Family and Social Policy for the Liberal Party of Canada’s Renewal Commission, and has served as a political assistant to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and as a policy assistant in the Office of the Prime Minister. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton. She brings particular expertise in social policy to the Riddell Program.

These three new appointments will be joined by André Turcotte, associate professor in Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication, who will become Graduate Supervisor for the Riddell Program. Dr. Turcotte (PhD, University of Toronto) is co-author of Dynasties and Interludes: Past and Present in Canadian Electoral Politics (Dundurn Press). Between 1992 and 1993, he was co-editor of the Gallup Poll. He was part of the polling team for the Chrétien Liberals in the 1993 federal election. Between 1994 and 2000, he was the official pollster for the Reform Party of Canada and its leader, Preston Manning, and over his career has provided advice to several political leaders and corporations. He is also the academic director for the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, through which he has delivered short courses in practical political skills.

These core faculty members will be joined by adjunct faculty drawn from the ranks of current and former senior political practitioners.

The Riddell Graduate Program received official approval from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies on June 17. Offers of admission and financial support are now being made to an inaugural cohort of 25 students who will begin their studies in September.

The Master of Political Management is an intensive, professionally oriented degree designed to be completed in 10 months of full-time study. It will be an explicitly cross-partisan program, attracting students of all political persuasions and exposing them to the full range of debate on which a healthy and mature democracy depends.

Intended to prepare its graduates for positions of responsibility to elected representatives, the degree also will be of value to those who wish to work for organizations and agencies that seek to influence government policies and priorities, whether these be NGOs, public- or private-sector companies or grassroots movements.

The new program will be housed in Carleton University’s brand new River Building, which will also be home to the School of Journalism and Communication, the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the School of Public Policy and Administration.

This innovative and pioneering program is made possible through the generous financial support of Calgary businessman Clayton H. Riddell and the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation.

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