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Photograph by Jared Grove. // Wikimedia Commons

Canada in the World, at 150

January 24, 2017 — 

This week, the 33rd annual J. W. Dafoe Political Studies Students’ Conference will be held in the Great Hall of University College on the Fort Garry Campus.

In commemoration and celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, this year’s theme will be dedicated to Canada, its political culture and institutions, and its impact and role on the world.

This interdisciplinary conference, entitled “Canada in the World at 150,” is scheduled for January 25-27, 2017.

“The conference is a fantastic opportunity for students and faculty members to hear experts from across the country and around the world on a variety of topics related to the year’s theme,” says Meaghan Cloutier, of the students organizing the conference.

“With it being 150 years since Confederation, we are approaching the sesquicentennial anniversary through an interdisciplinary and critical lens,” says Cloutier. “Panels will evaluate how Canada has done so far, and where the country needs to go heading forward. Since it is a political studies conference, we also organized a roundtable dedicated to studying Canada, and where the future of this discipline could take us.”

The Political Studies Students’ Conference (PSSC) was founded in 1984. Coordinated by students in the department of political studies at the University of Manitoba and aided by the Centre for Defence and Security Studies and faculty members, the conference’s mandate is to explore issues of current relevance in international affairs by inviting speakers from the academic, diplomatic, and government communities to present their views in a variety of academic panels.

This year, five panels are planned during the course of the conference, including sessions on environment, the economy, military defence, multiculturalism and the future of federalism. Guest moderators will include Paul Samyn, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and Richard Cloutier, host of The News on CJOB.

The conference begins on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, with The Paul Buteux Lecture at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7:00 pm. National affairs columnist and political pundit Paul Wells will present a lecture titled: A Trudeau Government in a Trump World, discussing Canada’s relationship to the rest of the world and observations on where we’re headed.

In 1983 Rahul Aggarwall, an energetic University of Manitoba student with an interest in arms control and disarmament, came up with a concept of hosting a conference that would unite students, academics and professionals from across Canada and eventually the world.

Aggarwall and fellow students worked with political studies professor Dr. Paul Buteux to host the first Political Studies Students’ Conference in 1985.

Soon after the first conference, Aggarwall decided to travel back to his home country of India and was tragically killed in the bombing of Air India Flight 182.

The devastating terrorist attack and the loss of their friend motivated political studies students Jeff Brown and Aaron Hywarren to keep Aggarwall’s dream and vision of a student conference alive. By the third year, the conference had become well-known in political circles and was attracting guest speakers from around the world.

Keynote speakers have included Romeo Dallaire, Commander of UN Peacekeeping Forces in Rwanda and Chief of Staff of the Canadian Forces; Susan Strange, prolific academic writer on globalization and international political economy; the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and David Bercuson, historian and Globe and Mail columnist, just to name a few.

Topics explore the economics, social, cultural, and political implications of the changes taking place in the world. The aim of the conference is to challenge conventional wisdom in the field and present policymakers with alternatives for the future.

Coordinated by students in Political Studies and the University of Manitoba and aided by faculty members, the conference mandate is to explore issues of current relevance in international affairs by inviting several speakers from the academic, diplomatic, and government communities to present their views in a variety of academic panels. Every year the conference is eagerly anticipated by students, faculty, and the general public wishing to seize the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers and officials in an intimate, collegial setting.

“I became involved in the conference in my second year of my political studies degree as a volunteer,” Cloutier explains.

“The conference was a whirlwind three days that locked me into my degree. It provided me with opportunities to meet professors from the faculty, as well as from universities around the world,” adds Cloutier. “The conference allows for political studies students to hang out in a fairly relaxed setting and learn about topics that we wish we could take whole courses on! I leave each conference learning so much. It reminds everyone that university is about learning, and leaves the stress of assignments at the door.”

For the conference schedule, visit:

For further details on the PSSC, contact:


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