Jane Philpott, Lisa Raitt and Megan Leslie to talk 'modern leadership' at U of T

headshots of Jane Philpott, Lisa Raitt, and Megan Leslie
From left to right: Jane Philpott, Lisa Raitt and Megan Leslie (photos by Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images, Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images and Mike Gifford)

Veteran parliamentarians from Canada’s three major political parties will gather on stage at the University of Toronto next week to discuss what it takes to be a leader.

The event, on Jan. 20 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, is part of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy’s David Peterson Program in Public Sector Leadership Lecture Series.

Titled Modern Leadership: Policy and Politics, the conversation will feature former Liberal Party MP and cabinet member Jane Philpott, former Conservative Party MP and Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt and former NDP MP and Deputy Leader Megan Leslie, who is also a Munk School senior fellow. The discussion will be moderated by journalist Paul Wells of Maclean’s magazine.

The panel promises to bring a broad range of viewpoints and a lively discussion. Though legislators on Parliament Hill may often take opposing sides of fiscal or social issues, many hold their counterparts in high esteem and enjoy strong friendships outside of the office.

“You kind of have to have an unwritten rule – and sometimes it’s a spoken rule – on massive issues of policy that you won’t get into debate,” said Raitt. “Not that you won’t have serious discussions ... but the debate should stay inside the House of Commons.”

On what she’s most looking forward to in taking part in this event, Raitt says: “Seeing Jane and Megan again because I like them enormously as human beings.”

Leslie, meanwhile, pointed to what the three lawmakers have in common: “(We) have all been on the national stage ... voices for our party at different points – and all three of us have lost elections at different points for different reasons.”

Philpott is excited about the dynamic of speaking with her political peers, but also interacting with students and alumni at the event.

“We will build diversity in leadership as people start to realize that you can carve your own path,” she said. “Even if there is nobody that looks or talks like you in a powerful position in this country right now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t find your way there.”

Raitt hopes the audience takes away an important lesson from the event. 

“It’s okay to be brave,” she said. “Even when you’re punished for being brave, it’s still the right thing to do and you’re going to be okay.”

The David Peterson Program in Public Sector Leadership Lecture Series invites speakers from a broad range of backgrounds and expertise to share their perspectives with the Munk School community. Recent events have featured former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Indigenous child welfare advocate Cindy Blackstock, and former B.C. Premier Christy Clark, among many others.

“These three highly accomplished women have demonstrated political leadership in three different parties and after active politics,” said Mel Cappe, a Munk School professor and former clerk of the Privy Council. 

“I look forward to hearing their ideas about the secret sauce for showing leadership at all levels.”


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