Why Canadian Difference

Canadian Difference is a bilingual online community dedicated to insightful national conversation about what makes Canada work; and to explore the role which Mutual Accommodation has or could play on specific issues of importance to the country.

Discussions are led, in rotation, by influential thinkers and are focused on the core themes of Indigenous Peoples, Multiculturalism, and Mutual Accommodation.

Join the community and contribute your voice and opinions alongside those of other Canadians who also want to make a difference.

Explore The Globe and Mail essays by William A. Macdonald that have become a cornerstone of our community.

What is Mutual Accommodation?

Mutual accommodation is fundamentally a way of going about things that makes space or shares spaces for different purposes, ways cultures and languages.

Canada’s greatest mutual accommodations have been internal and are woven into the fabric of the country. It is our legacy of learning to find space to accommodate different needs, space for the things we cannot change - such as our challenges in geography, cultural differences and proximity to a dominant neighbour to the South.

We have also had major mutual accommodation failures, most importantly with our First Nations.

As Canada approaches its 150th anniversary, there is a great need to recognize where mutual accommodation has worked in our nation’s past and where it has failed or could yet be made to work. Our history is never just in the past. We need to both share our history and to reshape our future.

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What is a Difference Rank?

Your opportunity to recognize other members.

Since Canadian Difference is a community-based site focused on creating substantive conversation on issues that are important to Canada, we created this Difference Ranking system to enable members to recognize each other’s valuable contributions to the discussion.

What items can I award a Difference Rank to?

Whenever you see the or “Like” button, it means you can award a Difference Rank (DR).

  • A member’s discussion post or reply
  • A resource
  • A news article

How do I award a Difference Rank?

It’s simple. Just click on the or “Like” button and select the option which best reflects your opinion.

The choices are:
  • Offers Valuable Insight
  • Increased My Understanding
  • Changed My Views

How many times can I award a Difference Rank?

You can only award a Difference Rank (DR) once for any particular item.

What happens after I’ve awarded a Difference Rank?

Once awarded, the recognition value is then attributed to both the member and their contribution.

On the item itself, you will see the total number of Difference Ranking (DR) points that have been awarded so far.

In addition, each member’s profile also displays the summary of the Difference Ranking (DR) points they have received based on their contributions to the community.

Does the Difference Ranking factor in elsewhere?

Yes, each Hot Topic will receive a cumulative total of Difference Ranking (DR) points awarded for items that are related to it, and it will be included in the final report that’s shared with the community.

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Who are the Differentiators?

Everyone who joins the community has an equal voice and opportunity to have an impact on the discussions that are held within Canadian Difference.

Our Differentiators - or influential Canadians - are members that we recognize for their particular knowledge and subject matter expertise that they are able to bring to enrich the community. Any number of these members will lead and host particular Hot Topic discussions. We thank them for the knowledge that they share with other members to further the thought-provoking discussion and facilitate the exchange of points of view.

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Who else is involved?

The Canadian Difference online community is an initiative designed to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation that takes place 2017. The community is a privately and charitably-funded project run in collaboration with Trent University and guided by an Advisory Committee chaired by W K Innes and Heather Nicol.

We are also thankful for the support of our Advisory Council:

Joel-Denis Bellavance

A native of Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick, Joel-Denis Bellavance has been covering federal politics since 1994. Mr. Bellavance obtained a degree in journalism from Carleton University in 1990. During his first year at Carleton University, he worked as a page in the House of Commons.

He worked for several newspapers, including Le Droit, Le Soleil and The National Post before joining La Presse in 2001. He was appointed Ottawa bureau chief for La Presse in 2003.

Mr. Bellavance is married and is a father of two wonderful girls. He lives in Gatineau, Québec.

Dr. Hugh Helferty

Hugh Helferty is Executive-in-Residence at the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Toronto and a B.Sc. and M.B.A. from Queen’s.

During his 30+ year career with Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil, he held executive positions in research, engineering, manufacturing, planning and business analysis; and led the company’s Chemical, Corporate Strategic, and Petroleum Products research departments.

Hugh grew up on a farm in the Ottawa Valley that his family has owned and tilled since 1850. He is married and has four adult children.

Michael Marzolini

Michael Marzolini founded POLLARA Strategic Insights in 1980. He currently serves as Chairman and Chief Public Opinion Analyst.

Marzolini is best known for his political strategies in Canada and internationally. He provided demographic analysis to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and was an apprentice pollster for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Presidential campaign. He was also media pollster for major news networks.

Michael Marzolini was a co-recipient of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize, for United Nations Peacekeeping in 1975 during the Cyprus Civil War and Turkish invasion, as well as the Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, U.N. Cyprus Medal and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.

Brian Stewart

Brian Stewart is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and this year the Order of Ontario.

A past Gemini-award winner as Canada’s Best Overall Broadcast Journalist, he is one of Canada's most respected foreign correspondents. Stewart has worked extensively in conflict areas and in humanitarian crises, providing Canadians with a window on the world.

Retired from daily journalism, Stewart continues to write a regular column for CBCNews.ca on international affairs and frequently contributes to CBC documentary and news reports.

Momin Rahman

Momin Rahman is an immigrant from the UK and was raised in a Bangladeshi Muslim culture. As a gay man, he focuses his academic work on sexualities and Muslim cultures, and the conflicts between the two.

Momin’s interest in the Canadian Difference project is precisely because Canada is an example of how such conflicts are being played out between different equity seeking groups, and what this tells us about how successful a society Canada is - and can be.

Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock, PhD, is a member of the Gitxsan First Nation who has worked on Indigenous child rights for over 30 years, with an emphasis on remediating disadvantage related to structural inequality. She is currently the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta.

A cornerstone of Cindy’s work is engagement of First Nations and non-Aboriginal children in reconciliation-based work to redress the inequalities First Nations children face. She has been recognized by the Nobel Women's Initiative, Frontline Defenders, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and many others.

David Newhouse

David Newhouse is Onondaga from the Six Nations of the Grand River near Brantford, Ontario. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Trent.

David’s research examines the emergence of modern Aboriginal society. His publications include In the Words of Elders: Aboriginal Cultures in Transition; Hidden in Plain Sight: Aboriginal Contributions to Canadian Development and Identity, Volumes I and II; Not Strangers In These Parts: Urban Aboriginal Peoples; and Well-Being in Urban Communities..

Dr. Jerry Bannister

Dr. Bannister is an award-winning historian, trained at the University of Toronto, where he is Coordinator of the Canadian Studies program.

His research covers topics such as energy projects and regional politics in Atlantic Canada. Dr. Bannister has served on a number of national organizations, and he is a past Chair of the Editorial Board of the Canadian Historical Review.

John Milloy

J. Sheridan Milloy DPhil (Oxon, Imperial history) is Professor Emeritus at Trent University. His research has focused on Indigenous/Settler relations in the British Empire and Canadian Federal Indian policy, especially on education and child welfare.

He has acted as an expert witness in court cases related to Aboriginal rights and residential schools. John was a Research Consultant for government commissions and was also Research director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Caroline Durand

Caroline Durand is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. The author of Nourir la machine humane: Nutrition et alimentation au Québec, 1860-1945 (Canada Prize in the social sciences, 2016), her research focuses on the social, cultural, and political history of Quebec and the history of Canadian women.

In addition:

The Trent Team

The Trent Team supports the Canadian Difference website by moderating discussions and curating resources and articles for the site. The Team comprises a small group of graduate students from the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University.

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