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REF NO.: 94

SUBJECT: Harris Centre to host public forum on governance and the current financial crisis in the province

DATE: June 9

Memorial University’s Harris Centre will host a panel discussion titled History Repeating: How Do We Make Sure Newfoundland and Labrador Doesn’t End Up in Crisis Again? on Monday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Innovation Hall in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation to discuss the role of governance and institutions in preventing crises such as the one the province is currently facing.

After more than a decade of steady growth, Newfoundland and Labrador is going through a period of dramatic change. But financial crisis is not new to this province; throughout history, Newfoundland and Labrador has faced many periods of major financial and political crisis, from 1932, when the government of the time declared bankruptcy, to the cod moratorium in the early 1990s. Arguably, the current situation is not simply the result of recent events, but is the culmination of a long process of decisions and actions that stretch back several decades.

“The situation we currently find ourselves in wasn’t caused by one thing alone,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, executive director, Harris Centre. “It’s a complex system of institutions, including government departments and agencies, but also including non-government organizations, media, associations—the people who hold governments to account.”

The panel, Alex Marland, associate professor of political science at Memorial; Karen Oldford, mayor of Labrador City and president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador; Shawn Skinner, former minister in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; David Vardy, former clerk of the Executive Council; and Shannie Duff, former deputy mayor, City of St. John’s, will discuss what role our institutions play in preventing fiscal crises, what institutions might we be missing and how we can ensure that organizations we have entrusted with our well-being do their work and avoid crises such as the one we are facing today.

“The aim of the session is really to open up a conversation to take us forward,” said Dr. Greenwood. “In times like these, it’s easy to point fingers and get bogged down in the thick of the conversation. For this forum, we want to think further down the road. How do we make sure we don’t end up here again? What do we need to change? What checks need to be in place? What role can civic engagement play? What functions do we need to strengthen now, to make sure that next time we can handle things differently?”

The session is free and open to the public. It will also be webcast live here; no registration necessary.

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For more information, please contact Cathy Newhook, communications co-ordinator, Harris Centre, Memorial University, at cathyn@mun.ca or 709-864-7918 (office), 709-631-9278 (mobile).

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