Rt. Hon. Robert L. Stanfield Conversations

The Rt. Hon. Robert L. Stanfield Conversations

Dalhousie University’s Stanfield Conversations: Talking Democracy series builds on the legacy of Rt. Hon. Robert L. Stanfield, former Premier of Nova Scotia and leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party. This series will focus on critical challenges to democracy and imaginative and inspiring responses to them. Through the Conversations, we aim to tackle subjects of national and international importance, drawing on diverse, world-class thinkers and practitioners of democracy to do so.

Honouring the man and his principles

Stanfield had the unique quality of allowing his principles and values to guide his political decisions. He was committed to doing what he thought was right or good for the county (or province) rather than what was popular or would win elections – a rare quality in politics. 

In today’s high-speed political climate, where issues and challenges arise at a dizzying rate, there is a need for more of Stanfield’s thoughtful, ethically-guided approach. One that is founded in principles and puts a stronger and more civilized Canada above  all else.

THE RT. HON. ROBERT L. STANFIELD CONVERSATIONS will not only honour this outstanding Canadian and his contribution to public life but highlight, for current and future leaders, the need for a vibrant democracy guided by integrity and decency. 


Focus on democracy

“WHERE IS DEMOCRACY TODAY?”  will be the over-arching focus of the series. Conversations will address themes of both urgent contemporary and enduring importance. Topics may be national or international in scope and explore issues such as populism and the new authoritarianism, ethics in politics, inequality and democracy or accommodating division and diversity. The series will highlight diverse political orientations, while honouring Stanfield’s enduring contributions to public policy and public service grounded in decency and integrity.

Speakers will be chosen from the ranks of distinguished academics, past or present politicians, non-elected political practitioners, journalists, public service, civil society and private sector leaders and public intellectuals. In selecting speakers and topics, the aim will be to meet the highest standards of academic and public interest.


Inaugural conversation: Democracy on Edge

The first Conversation takes place Thursday, September 23, 2021 and features Professor Charles Taylor, an internationally celebrated Canadian political philosopher whose wide-ranging work has bridged philosophical theory and political action, and Professor Simone Chambers, a leading international specialist in democracy studies - and as it happens, Taylor’s niece.

Addressing the theme of Democracy on Edge, Taylor and Chambers will engage in a wide-ranging conversation on the sources of sinking trust in democracy, and new directions to address contemporary challenges. Beginning with the rise of ‘populism’ and what it means for democracy, they will also discuss the role of disinformation in our new, hyper-partisan and increasingly splintered digital landscape as well as institutional reforms to restore citizen trust. The moderator is Dalhousie alum and host of CBC’s Power and Politics, Vassy Kapelos.



The series is supported by an Advisory Council of respected Canadians from across the country – many prominent practitioners and scholars of democratic politics - led by co-chairs the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark and the Hon. Anne McLellan (former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively). Operational activities are managed by a Dalhousie-based Organizing committee, supported by the President’s office, Communications, Marketing & Creative Services, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Department of Political Science.

Please contact rlsconv@dal.ca if you have any questions about the Stanfield Conversations. 

Advisory Council


We are privileged to have prestigious individuals commit to providing volunteer leadership.  With their guidance, we are establishing an advisory council, co-chaired by the Rt. Honourable Joe Clark and the Hon. Anne McLellan, that will help us achieve the goals of the Rt. Hon. Robert L. Stanfield Conversations. 

Stanfield Fellows


We are pleased to welcome the first two Stanfield Fellows, Dr. Kiran Banerjee and Dr. Scott Pruysers - outstanding young scholars with a deep interest in democratic politics. The Stanfield Fellows are an integral part of the Stanfield Conversations: Talking Democracy series. The Fellows will be organizing a master class for Dalhousie students with the first two Conversation speakers, authoring publications, contributing to the development of yearly themes, and supporting the organization of the series. 

Fundraising goal

To ensure the long term sustainability of the events and conversations, sufficient capital will be endowed to provide annual funding in perpetuity.

The annual income on the endowment will cover the costs of presenting high quality programming in a modern format that is suitable for wide distribution on various audio, video and social media platforms, as well as in print publications.

Donate Now

To learn more about how you can support the Robert. L. Stanfiled Conversations fund, contact: 

Tara Graham
Development Officer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

E-mail: TLGraham@dal.ca
Tel: (902) 943-5854