The reinforcement and renovation of Parliamentary and administrative machinery […] will free Parliament so that it can come to grips with difficult and pressing problems relating to youth, poverty, regional disparities, urban growth, individual welfare, and the application and encouragement of scientific technology. These subjects are of concern to all governments in Canada and it is clear that a great deal more has to be done than has so far been contemplated. […] To assist in this process it would be useful to have available to all governments an institute where long-term research and thinking can be carried out into governmental matters of all kinds. At the present time there is no such facility available in this country and it is the intention of my Ministers to bring before you in the near future legislation that will fill this most important gap in our governmental apparatus.

With those words, spoken by then governor general the Right Honourable Roland Michener at the opening of the 28th Parliament in 1968, events were set in motion that would lead to the creation of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

For the past four decades, the IRPP has helped shape Canada’s most important conversations. We have led national debates on free trade and Canada-US relations, tax reform, Canadian federalism, democracy in Canada, Canadian Arctic sovereignty, daycare and family policy, health care and many other issues. Today, we provide thought leadership on pension reform, care for seniors, the economic and social integration of immigrants, and making our economy more competitive through productivity and innovation. Over the next few months, to mark our 40th anniversary, we will also engage in a series of conversations with Canadians in every region of the country on what they see as the top policy priorities for future governments.

Looking ahead to the policy challenges on the horizon — many of them eloquently showcased here — it is clear that independent research has never mattered more to the development of sound public policy. As governments grapple with ever more complex issues, and with ever-shrinking public spaces for thoughtful debate, our mission is more critical today than ever before.

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Our sincere thanks go out to all those who have contributed to building the IRPP over these last 40 years. Our commitment to you is that we will stay true to our mission and remind all governments that the best policy decisions are those that are based on evidence and supported by the highest quality research.

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Graham Fox
Graham Fox is Managing Principal at Navigator Ltd. and previously served as President and CEO of the IRPP from 2011 to 2021. A frequent media analyst, Graham has appeared regularly on CBC News Network, Radio-Canada, CTV NewsNet, TFO and CFRA. His columns and articles have appeared in The Hill Times, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and Policy Options.

You are welcome to republish this Policy Options article online or in print periodicals, under a Creative Commons/No Derivatives licence.

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