`Intellectual Grey Cup' comes west for first time

An annual conference which has been variously described as "a cross between Plato's Academy and the ideal summer camp," and "the intellectual Grey Cup of Canada" will be held for the first time west of Lake Couchiching, Ont. at Green College on May 7 and 8.

The annual Couchiching Conference provides a forum for Canadians from many walks of life to share ideas and opinions on important public policy issues with experts and other members of the community.

"The Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs (CIPA) has long been a well-known institute in Eastern Canada and UBC Continuing Studies is its first official partner," says Nichola Hall, co-ordinator of Community Programs for Continuing Studies.

"The goal of CIPA - West is to create our own forum, a local experiment in which B.C. citizens can deliberate and share views about important choices our society needs to make," she adds.

Following two successful roundtable discussions this spring CIPA and UBC's Continuing Studies are staging the conference in which participants will discuss "Individual Rights and Society's Responsibilities: Striking the Balance."

The opening evening, which takes place May 7 from 7:30-9:30 p.m., will feature a debate between two strong protagonists with differing views -- Michael Walker, head of the Fraser Institute, and Michael Goldberg, director of Research for the Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC). It will be chaired by well-known former journalist and broadcaster Kevin Evans.

On Saturday morning at 9 a.m. a panel of four experts in the fields of health care, social policy, education and care of the environment will offer thought-provoking opinions on how these different approaches can affect policies and program delivery.

Panel participants include: Dr. Charles Wright, Vancouver Hospital; UBC Health Care and Epidemiology Asst. Prof. Robin Hanvelt; Paul Gallagher, director of policy review of post-secondary education in B.C.; and UBC chair of Environmental Studies Political Science Assoc. Prof. Kathryn Harrison. The panel will be chaired by former B.C. minister of Municipal Affairs Darlene Marzari.

The second half of the morning will provide an opportunity for free-wheeling question and debate among the panelists and conference participants.

Lunch will be provided at noon and from 1:30-4:30 p.m. simultaneous break-out sessions will be formed for vigorous debate.

The fee of $95 ($85 for CIPA members) includes a reception Friday and lunch and refreshments Saturday. Student bursaries are available. To register, call (604) 904-5777.