This special issue of Policy Options celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. It reflects on the people our Board of Directors will honour with fellowships and awards on May 28, during our 30th Anniversary Dinner and on the three decades of research and debate kindled by IRPP initiatives. But it also looks forward, with in-depth commentary on current policy problems.

Contributions from individual attendees at the dinner, and from table and corporate sponsors " like those from the many businesses and foundations that have sponsored IRPP workshops, working lunches and conferences in recent years " will help extend the reach and impact of the Institute’s work as well as provide funding for a national intern fund, which will bring young Canadians together to work on new public policy research.

Initially endowed by donations from the federal and provincial governments and the private sector, the IRPP is a unique Canadian entity: a fully independent, bilingual public policy research organization. And it has a critical mission: to offer unbiased, in-depth research and analysis on a wide range of policy issues that affect the day-to-day lives of all Canadians.

First and last, democracy is about choice. While the choice between political parties and individual leaders may broaden or narrow with the times, having a wide range of policy choices always matters. My colleagues at the IRPP, the volunteers on our Board, and the scholars with whom we work are dedicated to offering Canadians the research and the forums that help generate those choices.

As President of the IRPP, I stand proudly on the shoulders of those who have preceded me. When I think of our past presidents, France St-Hilaire, Monique Jérôme-Forget, Rod Dobell, Gordon Robertson, Michael Kirby and William Carrothers, I feel extremely fortunate. The cause they worked for, a cause envisioned in 1972 " an independent, bilingual, public policy research presence " continues to make a difference, especially as Canadians choose the mix of policies that will maximize economic performance and social progress in the 21st century.

Our 30th anniversary celebrations provide an opportunity to look back on what we have accomplished, and to rededicate ourselves to providing policy-makers and all Canadians with policy choices.

Here’s to the next three decades"at least!"of IRPP.