“When you are in a country where there is no free press, that is when you realize that the two are completely linked. If you let journalism die, you are irreparably damaging your democracy.”
- Lisa LaFlamme, Internationally Recognized Journalist
Since 2020, In Defence of Democracy has convened a diverse audience that extends across sectors, disciplines, professions and generations to consider a pressing question of our era: How do we inspire renewed civic purpose in Canada?
This year, we considered the role a free press plays in safeguarding democracy in an era of misinformation and increasingly concentrated media ownership. A free press is vital to a healthy democracy. Local, vibrant journalism is what keeps citizens informed of the issues of the day that matter most. It helps hold elected officials accountable, ensures our political system is transparent, and protects our democracy so citizens can freely engage in it. Together, we will also explore how supporting local civic engagement in our communities can revitalise democracy globally.
When renowned Canadian journalist Lisa LaFlamme sat down in conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s IDEAS, at this year’s In Defence of Democracy event and fundraiser, the discussion spanned a range of topics from declining local civic engagement, factual reporting in an era of misinformation, and the ways global conflict and insecurity affects democracy-building efforts. Together they reflected on how their experiences as foreign correspondents, covering some of the world’s deadliest conflicts, have shaped their perspectives on modern media and Canadian democracy.
The event was held at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre and drew an audience of hundreds (our highest turnout to date) who came out to listen and learn from two of Canada’s most acclaimed journalists.
Opening remarks were provided by Sabreena Delhon, CEO of the Samara Centre for Democracy as well as Samara Centre Board Member Zain Velji. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, provided written greetings.
We are grateful to those who have made this year’s In Defence of Democracy program possible and support our mission to strengthen Canadian democracy. Thank you to our sponsors and partners: Stikeman Elliot, Bennett Jones, the Donner Foundation, Nextdoor, Baylis Medical, Massey Henry and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Arts, Ontario Heritage Trust and CBC Radio’s IDEAS.