Rudyard Griffiths, 35 Executive director, Dominion Institute, Toronto
BY MICHAEL RYVAL
When Canada went to the brink in the Quebec referendum in 1995, Rudyard Griffiths resolved to bridge a widening gap in the country's sense of identity. On Canada Day, 1997, he and two friends, Eric Penz and Michael Chong, launched the Dominion Institute, a non-government organization dedicated to making Canadians, young and old, care about their own country.
"The near-separation of Quebec wasn't driven by economic reasons or geopolitical issues. It was driven by a loss of shared memory on the part of English and French Canada in terms of what they had accomplished together since the country's founding," recalls Mr. Griffiths, a former policy analyst at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who has a masters degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University. "The institute was created with the idea that a strong sense of identity had to be based on an equally strong sense of memory. And commitment to the ideals of responsible citizenship, such as voter participation."
Mr. Griffiths and his colleagues caused a stir when they published a survey of Canadians' knowledge of their own history. Only one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds, for instance, knew that Confederation occurred in 1867. "We got a lot of attention and brought to light the erosion of common memory and the collective amnesia on the part of many people when it comes to an awareness of their history," he says.
Launched with a $150,000 start-up grant from the Donner Canadian Foundation, the institute hasn't looked back since. With a staff of 14 and a budget of $2-million, the institute boasts a rich collection of programs that have touched hundreds of thousands of Canadians. To date, the organization has raised $11-million.
Among its initiatives is Youth Vote, which has sought to engage disaffected young voters.
The institute boasts a speakers' bureau of about 1,500 veterans who share their stories with students.
"We are also proud of our ability to draw together people from different parts of the political spectrum and bring them together around the common cause of promoting Canadian history and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship," he says.
Mr. Griffiths is also an adviser to the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Recently, he helped the organization launch a new institute for Canada-U.S. relations.
Mr. Griffiths would like other young people to follow his example. "We've created a different model for an NGO," he says. "One which is run more like a production company than a traditional charity."
Jason Clemens, 35 Director of fiscal studies, the Fraser Institute, Vancouver
BY MICHAEL RYVAL
Being open to workplace opportunities is a virtue, as Jason Clemens learned early on.
In 1996, Mr. Clemens had an opportunity to work as a summer intern at the Fraser Institute, a leading public-policy think tank.
"I was on a path to corporate and commercial banking; that's where my schooling was aimed," recalls Mr. Clemens, who was then completing an MBA at the University of Windsor. "But, unlike a lot of other internship programs, this one was actually about research and you were able to work closely with senior staff."
That four-month experience, combined with research that he did for Betty Jane Punnett, a business professor at the university, opened doors that he had not considered. "There was a fork in the road and I took a path I hadn't expected to take. I really enjoyed research."
A full-time member of the institute since September, 1997, a father of two and a competitive soccer player, Mr. Clemens has written or co-written 27 major studies and more than 160 articles for Fraser Forum, the institute's monthly magazine. He has also appeared as an expert witness before the Senate and House of Commons on issues ranging from government budgets to small business finance, not to mention published articles in the Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail and other newspapers.
As director of fiscal studies, Mr. Clemens oversees four research departments with a total budget of more than $800,000 and three full-time and one part-time staff members. His department uses a team approach, Mr. Clemens says. One person is a project leader who is supported by other team members. In some cases, he assigns a team leader and does not get involved in a project until the end when he reviews it and gets feedback. In other cases, he acts as the team leader and is involved from start to finish.