Ed Broadbent to give annual Avie Bennett Historica Chair lecture

Ed Broadbent, a former leader of the federal New Democratic Party and former York professor and Board of Governors member, will discuss attacks on social rights next Thursday when he gives the annual Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History public lecture.

The lecture, “Barbarism Lite: The Political Attack on Social Rights, 1979-2009”, will take place at 7:30pm on Feb. 19 at the Robert R. McEwen Auditorium, Seymour Schulich Building, York University.

In his lecture, Broadbent will discuss what has been called the most important innovation of the 60-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the inclusion of social rights. They were included because the leading democracies had already embarked on their implementation.

Right: Ed Broadbent

Broadbent will also look at why this challenge to the traditional structures of capitalist democracies happened following the Second World War. How were such rights responsible for creating the Golden Age for ordinary people? And what accounts for the recent systematic and barbaric attempt to destroy them – not least of all here in Canada? In the name of egalitarian democracy, what can and should be done?

Following graduate studies at the London School of Economics in 1965, Broadbent obtained a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. He joined York's faculty in 1965 and was a member of the Department of Political Science until 1968, when he entered politics as an NDP member of Parliament. In 1975, he was elected leader of his party and remained leader until his retirement from Parliament in 1989.

In 1990, he became the founding president of the International Center for Human Rights & Democratic Development, and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1993 and a companion of the order in 2001. In 2001-2002, he co-chaired the Canadian Democracy & Corporate Accountability Commission with then York Chancellor Avie Bennett. Broadbent lives in Ottawa and currently serves as an international adviser in the area of human rights and electoral reform.

The Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History was established at York University in 2004 by the Historica Foundation of Canada, endowed by Chancellor Emeritus Bennett. Its purpose is to promote the study of Canada's heritage and ensure the academic vitality of the discipline.

A reception will follow the lecture.