Tyler Sommers, MPM, has worked as a researcher and community organizer focusing his efforts on understanding the motivations for political involvement and assisting Canadians in becoming active and effective community participants.
He is a founder of the Canadian Youth Assembly, an organization seeking to educate youth about community participation, to encourage community participation, and to strengthen the bonds between youth and community leaders.
He has been involved with several University of Toronto research projects covering democratic reform and motivations of political engagement and activity. Tyler recently took part in Carleton University’s graduate program in Political Management, the only of its kind in Canada, making him one of the first graduates of this program.
As Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Assistant Coordinator of the Democracy Education Network he hopes to continue the success of both organizations and further the involvement of Canadians through outreach and information. Tyler believes that his passion for democratic and community involvement will serve the organizations as he strives to develop the reach and networks of both organizations.
Directors are acting as individuals, not as representatives of any organization with which they may be affiliated
Duff Conacher, LL.B., is an internationally recognized leader in the area of democratic reform and government accountability. He is a former Ralph Nader’s Raider and he has worked as a researcher, community organizer and educator, legal intern and consultant. A graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, he has a long-standing interest in democratic process and corporate responsibility issues. He was the main Founder of Democracy Watch, was Coordinator from 1993 to June 2011, and is still a Director and spokesperson on many issues for the organization. He is now the Coordinator of the national educational charity Your Canada, Your Constitution (YCYC), and also heads the firm GoodOrg.ca Consulting which provides advice and services to governments, businesses and citizen organizations in the areas of good governance, ethics, responsibility, communications, stakeholder and public relations. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.
As Coordinator of Democracy Watch, he led the organization to win more changes to laws, regulations and government policies than any other citizen advocacy group in Canada (as of June 2011, more than 110 changes strengthening government accountability and corporate responsibility measures in 16 key Canadian federal laws, 6 key federal policies, and 7 provincial laws). Many of the changes are world-leading.
Through this time period, Democracy Watch obtained national Canadian media coverage on average 10 times each month, and regional and local media coverage on average 40 times each month. As well, Democracy Watch’s website, with more than 1.4 million hits annually, is the #1 citizen group website in Canada when the Internet is searched using the search words “democracy” or “government ethics” or “honesty in politics” or “money in politics” or “bank accountability” or “corporate responsibility”.
Duff also led Democracy Watch to win the first-ever ethics court challenge (archive website) of the federal government in July 2004, and the second-ever ethics court challenge (archive website) in March 2009. Among the 40 leading good government and corporate responsibility reports he has authored or co-authored, he wrote the report on Canada for Transparency International’s 2004 Global Corruption Report (archive website) and wrote the first three reports on Canada for the 2007 Global Integrity Report (archive website), the 2008 Global Integrity Report (archive website), and the 2010 Global Integrity Report.
He also organized Democracy Watch’s many coalitions — the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition, (a nation-wide bank accountability coalition made up of 100 citizen groups), the Corporate Responsibility Coalition, the Government Ethics Coalition and the Open Government Coalition — which along with the Money in Politics Coalition are coordinated by Democracy Watch and its charitable partner organization, the Democracy Education Network (DEN).
Duff has also designed and delivered dozens of civics education and organizational development workshops over the past 17 years as Assistant Coordinator of DEN.
His past work includes organizing the first chapter of Quebec PIRG (Quebec Public Interest Research Group) at McGill University in 1988, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of University of Toronto and Ontario PIRG from 1988 to 1991, and playing a key support role in organizing PIRG chapters at four other universities in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta between 1988 and 2002. He is is also co-author, with Ralph Nader and Nadia Milleron, of Canada firsts: Ralph Nader’s Salute to Canada and Canadian Achievement which spent six months on Canadian best-seller lists in 1993 and was the #1 best-seller for five weeks, and author of the best-selling More Canada Firsts: Another Collection of Canadian Firsts and Foremosts in the World (1999).
Bradford E. F. Duplisea, originally from beautiful Prince Edward Island, has worked as an environmental community leader, public interest researcher and advocate on a wide range of environmental and public health issues.
He is a graduate of Algonquin College’s Forestry and Wildlife program where he was awarded the Canadian Institute of Forestry Gold Medal for being the top student in his program. He was also recognized with a number of awards for his efforts in P.E.I. where he worked for several years as a watershed coordinator. In his role, he worked with governments, community leaders, landowners and business operators to protect local river systems, restore lost wildlife habitat and create environmental awareness throughout the community.
Bradford is one of Canada’s leading researchers on food biotechnology issues (especially the unhealthy relationship between government regulators and the biotechnology industry) and in recent years has represented the Biotechnology Caucus of the Canadian Environmental Network at international negotiations of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
Since moving to Ottawa in 1997, he has done consulting and research work for a number of non-governmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Council of Canadians. He is currently the Director of Research and Information Systems with Canada’s public health watchdog, the Canadian Health Coalition, where he has worked since the fall of 1999, and works part-time as an e-Communications Specialist for the not-for-profit organization Prevent Cancer Now.
In February 2010, Bradford was awarded the Spirit of Tommy Douglas Award by the Douglas family in recognition of his work defending and improving public health care in Canada.
She is a founder of Low Income Families Together (LIFT) in Toronto, a resource center run by and for low income people. LIFT does community education on human rights, economic and political literacy and helps provide a voice for low income people to the media and government.
She has been involved internationally as a cofounder of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, a network of over 300 national organizations working to challenge and propose alternatives to the current free trade regime which respect human and environmental rights. She became the first international member of the U.S. National Welfare Rights Union in 1994 and continues to work with them on their Economic Human Rights campaign.
She coordinated authored and presented the Ontario People’s Report to the UN committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights in 1998. Josephine has served as the International Secretary for Canada Without Poverty (formerly the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO)) and continues to work at the community level with fellow volunteers on empowering people to stand up for their rights. She now also works for an international committee on using human rights treaties to address global economic policy and trade agreements.
Advisory Committee Members
Advisory Committee members are acting as individuals, not as representatives of any organization with which they may be affiliated
Dan Aykroyd, B.A., is one of North America’s best known comedians and actors. Born in Ottawa and a graduate of Carleton University (where he studied psychology, political science and criminal sociology), Dan began writing comedy sketches while at university. He then went on to become a member of the well-known Second City comedy troupe in Toronto.
In 1975, Dan became one of the members of the first cast of Saturday Night Live, which has gone on to become the longest running, most highly rated late-night comedy TV show in the world. On the show until 1979, Dan created such memorable characters as Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers (with John Belushi playing brother Jake Blues until he passed away tragically), and impressed with his very accurate impressions of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. He was nominated for an Emmy three times for his work on SNL and has appeared as a guest more than 10 times.
Leaving the show in 1980, Dan went on to a successful film (and screenwriting) career, first in The Blues Brothers movie, then in more than 50 other films including Trading Places, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Dragnet, Grosse Pointe Blank, Chaplin (in which he played Canadian Mack Sennett, the legendary silent film director), Sneakers, Pearl Harbour, 50 First Dates and Yogi Bear. His first straight dramatic role, in Driving Miss Daisy, earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Dan also has appeared in several TV shows, including PSI Factor and Soul Man, which he both developed and starred in, along with the 1990 Earth Day Special.
In 1992, Dan established in partnership with others the very successful House of Blues chain of live music clubs and restaurants, and he continues to perform (often at charity events) as the Blues Brothers with John Belushi’s brother Jim.
Dan Aykroyd maintains strong ties to his family in Ottawa, and to Canada, including starring in the 1997 CBC TV mini-series The Arrow, about the development and scrapping of the world-leading Avro Arrow jet airplane by the federal government in the late 1950s, and assisting with the fundraising efforts of several organizations.
In 1999, Dan was named a Member of the Order of Canada.
In June 2007, Dan announced a partnership with Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. to build the Dan Aykroyd Winery in Lincoln, Ontario with an environmentally sustainable design and production process. In 2008, Dan launched Crystal Head Vodka in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp., and obtained the exclusive rights to distribute Patrón Tequila in Canada.
David Baker, LL.B., LL.M., was a founder of, and the Executive Director of, the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped (ARCH) from 1980 to 1998. ARCH is a public interest law centre governed by a board of directors representing 45 disability organizations. It engages in test litigation, law reform, and public education.
David has been involved in human rights and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms litigation, as well as law reform in such areas as employment equity, advocacy and income programs for persons with disabilities, throughout his career.
He currently heads up a law firm in Toronto (bakerlaw.ca) focusing on human rights issues, and provided legal counsel to Democracy Watch in an historic money in politics (archive website) court case, and an historic government ethics (archive website) court case.
Lyse Blanchard has worked in the field of International Development since 1964, when she joined CUSO as a volunteer and taught in Ghana, West Africa. She has an academic background in Political Science and Public Administration, and is fluent in English and French. In addition to four years of field experience in Africa, she has worked in various sectors in Canada.
Her interest in human rights led to an active involvement on both a professional and personal level with community groups. She has also worked as a senior consultant with multilateral institutions and has been retained as an advisor on the integration of women in development by a variety of firms and organizations.
Lyse served a four-year term as the Executive Director of CUSO from 1993-1998, a non-governmental Canadian organization committed to social justice around the globe, whose goals include developing alternatives that allow all people to participate in making decisions that affect them. Since then she has worked as a consultant on gender equity, management and organizational development issues.
Recently, Lyse has been a member of the Faculty Team for the Leadership Program at The Banff Centre.
She was a volunteer member of the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution which led to the successful campaign to change the Canadian Constitution in 1982 to include in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the “Equal Rights Amendment” on gender equality, which she helped to draft.
Marilou is a founder and continuing volunteer Vice-Chair of METRAC (the Metro Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children) and Chair of the Board of the LEAF Foundation for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
She is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, has been a Member of the Order of Canada since 1985 (awarded for her leadership on the Ad Hoc Committee on Women and the Constitution), and in 1992 was awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Winnipeg, and the Canada 125 Medallion for community service.
Marilou completed a term as the Corporate Director of Healthy City Toronto for the City of Toronto in 1994, and was then the Corporate Director of the Women’s Health Partnership at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, and is a former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
She is the Founder and was the first Director of the International Women’s Rights Project from 2003 to 2007 and still serves as an Advisory Partner for the Project. In 2007, she was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, a position she left in April 2008 when she was named is the first Principal of the new Global College at the University of Winnipeg.