The LRC Presents…

Breaking Down the Door

Robert Sirman, former CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, on politics and the public service

In recent years Canada’s political climate has grown ever more partisan. Meanwhile politicians and public servants are finding that their actions, big and small, are being appraised as never before. The effects for those who work within government are far-reaching, yet little understood by the public at large. To launch LRC’s 2014-15 Speaker’s Series, Robert Sirman, author of the lead essay in the October issue of LRC, shares insights on this topic gained from his eight-year tenure as Director and CEO of the Canada Council.

We all want Canadian government to be more transparent and open. Yet if anything current trends are creating more distance between Canada’s political class and public service and the ways they deal with members of the public. The result is that doors often seem more tightly shut than ever before. As Sirman puts it, “The closed door metaphor has different connotations depending on which side of the door you consider yourself. Those outside think insiders are plotting against them; those inside live in a constant state of siege. The longer you observe, the clearer it becomes that both groups are essentially the same; the main thing separating them is the door.”

Only by fully understanding these dysfunctional trends can we hope to overcome them. Our speaker will not only give us a sense of their importance, he will offer his own view of a way forward as well.


This event is available free to LRC subscribers or to all those who sign-up for our special event subscription offer of $49 for one year of the LRC. Otherwise tickets are $10 for the general public or $5 for students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased or reserved by clicking here.


With the support of

  • Metcalf Foundation