Western Libraries

Canadian Think Tanks

An Update. May 2012

                On the occasion of the appointment of Mr. Neils Veldhuis as President of the Fraser Institute, there is a very useful article about think-tanks in the National Post. See: Kathryn Blaze Carlson, “Thinking Outside the Tank: The Fraser Institute is Embracing the Competition its Success Helped Inspire,” May 6, 2012. Apart from offering valuable information about the growth and evolution of The Fraser, the piece includes additional background about Canadian think-tanks generally. As well there are useful comments by Dr. Donald Abelson who is here at Western in the Political Science Department. He is an authority on think-tanks and also the Director, The Canada-U.S. Institute and Director, Centre for American Studies. For his latest book on the subject see: Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes.

Organizations commonly referred to as "think tanks" have become increasingly important in the policy-making arena. To assist you in the task of locating Canadian think tanks the following list has been compiled and links directly to the tank site are provided. At the bottom of the list you will also find links to some general think tank sites that will direct you to well-known organizations such as Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
"The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is an independent, not-for-profit think tank on Canada's relations with Asia. It undertakes research and develops and distributes timely information and focused analysis for business and policy makers. In our website you will find a wide range of information, analysis, statistics, news and Internet links detailing Canada's economic, political, social and institutional relations with Asia Pacific."
Council of Canadians
"Founded in 1985, The Council of Canadians is Canada's pre-eminent citizens' watchdog organization, comprised of over 100,000 members and more than 70 Chapters across the country. Strictly non-partisan, the Council lobbies Members of Parliament, conducts research, and runs national campaigns aimed at putting some of the country's most important issues into the spotlight: safeguarding our social programs, promoting economic justice, renewing our democracy, asserting Canadian sovereignty, advancing alternatives to corporate-style free trade, and preserving our environment. The Council does not accept money from corporations or governments, and is sustained entirely by the volunteer energy and financial assistance of its members."
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
"Whether on regional issues, like destructive federal transfers and employment insurance, or on national issues like health care and education, AIMS brings a distinctive eastern voice to the debates shaping public policy in Canada. AIMS works to explain the public policy choices that we face on a broad range of issues and to stimulate people to think in new and creative ways about how to solve our most pressing public policy challenges. We carry out this work through independent high quality research, conferences, publications, the Internet, the media and collaboration with governments, universities, business and other policy institutes."
The Fraser Institute
"The Fraser Institute has been changing the way people think about government and the role of markets for over 25 years. Today, government committees, MPs, the media, and think tanks around the world turn to the Institute for their innovative ideas and solutions. In raising the level of understanding about economic and social policy, the Institute's ideas contribute directly to the economic well-being of individual Canadians."
C.D. Howe Institute
"Since its formation in 1973, the C.D. Howe Institute has earned a reputation as Canada's most respected independent, nonprofit, economic and social policy research institution. Governments, the media, and Canadians in every region look to the Institute to provide balanced, well-reasoned, and comprehensible analysis of issues of national interest. From the beginning, the recipe for the Institute's success has consisted of equal measures of objectivity, professionalism, and relevance."
GPI Atlantic
"GPI Atlantic is a non-profit research group, founded in 1997, to develop an index of sustainable development and well being - the Genuine Progress Index.Application of the Genuine Progress Index to Nova Scotia can serve as a pilot project for Canada. To that end, Statistics Canada has provided in-kind support in the form of data access, ongoing advice and consultation, and review of drafts. Wide interest in the GPI reports to date has led to projects developing Genuine Progress indicators at the community level."
Caledon Institute on Social Policy
'The Caledon Institute of Social Policy does rigorous, high-quality research and analysis; seeks to inform and influence public opinion and to foster public discussion on poverty and social policy; and develops and promotes concrete, practicable proposals for the reform of social programs at all levels of government and of social benefits provided by employers and the voluntary sector. Caledon’s work deals with poverty and other social and economic inequalities, and covers a broad range of social policy areas including income security (e.g., pensions, welfare, child benefits, Employment Insurance, benefits for Canadians with disabilities), community capacity-building, taxation, social spending, employment development services, social services and health. While Caledon focusses on Canadian issues, it draws upon international experience and innovations in social policy. Caledon also seeks to inform social policy experts and policy-makers in other countries on issues and developments in Canadian social policy."
Institute for Policy Analysis  see note below
"The Institute for Policy Analysis at the University of Toronto has two research objectives:
(i) to further scholarly research in applied economics and related disciplines with the goal of enhancing policy analysis, and;
(ii) to disseminate these findings to academics, policy-makers and practitioners."

NOTE 2011:

Rotman Institute for International Business
About RIIB

RIIB has two parents, the Institute for International Business (IIB) and the Institute for Policy Analysis (IPA) which merged in September 2008.

Canada West Foundation
"The Canada West Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit public policy research institute dedicated to introducing western perspectives into current Canadian policy debates through:
the production and dissemination of objective research to serve as a catalyst for informed public debate; and
initiatives for active citizen education and engagement in the Canadian public policy process.
Since 1971, Canada West Foundation has provided citizens and policy makers with non-partisan, non-ideological research on a wide range of issues of critical importance to western Canadians."
Institute for Research on Public Policy
"As an independent, non-partisan think tank, IRPP's mission is to advance new ideas that will help Canadians make more effective policy choices. Our research aims to enhance the quality of the debate on the issues that matter most to Canadians by focusing on the strategic choices they must make to promote economic performance, social progress, and sound democratic governance. Through thoughtful analyses and creative policy proposals, IRPP not only addresses the issues that are at the top of today's public policy agenda but also provides insights into issues that will be on the agenda in the future.
As the challenges we face become increasingly complex, never has a vigorous exchange of ideas mattered more. It is IRPP's goal to promote the insights and perspectives that solid empirical research and open debate can produce."
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
"Canadians are bombarded with bad news every day. Our health care system is in crisis and private clinics are the only solution. We can't afford to fight poverty because we have to lower taxes to stop the brain drain. We have to obey the World Trade Organization or we can't be part of the global economy. Think again.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives offers an alternative to the message that we have no choice about the policies that affect our lives. We undertake and promote research on issues of social and economic justice."
Institute of Public Administration
The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) in 1997 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. IPAC is a leading Canadian organization concerned with the theory and practice of public management. Its scope covers governance from the global to the local level. It is an association with 17 regional groups across the country providing networks and forums regionally, nationally and internationally.The Institute's dedication to excellence in public service is manifested in large part through efforts to improve the quality of the practice of public administration. We, the members of the Institute, intend that this Statement of Principles should enhance the performance of our members by encouraging high standards of conduct, whether they work in the federal, provincial or local government sectors. We intend also that this Statement should inform the general public, politicians and the news media of the principles and standards which should guide official behaviour.
Canadian Council on Social Development
"CCSD is a non-profit social policy and research organization focussing on issues such as poverty, disability, cultural diversity, child well-being, labour markets and housing."
Institute On Governance
"The Institute On Governance (IOG) is a non-profit organization with charitable status founded in 1990 to promote effective governance. From our perspective, governance comprises the traditions, institutions and processes that determine how power is exercised, how citizens are given a voice, and how decisions are made on issues of public concern."
The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
"The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) has been fuelling Canada’s knowledge base for almost two decades, allowing Canada to think ahead, not follow the rest of the world in the development of new technologies and insights. We accomplish this by bringing together the most distinguished thinkers from across Canada and around the world, and by providing them with the research time and networking opportunities they need to respond to the scientific and social challenges of tomorrow."
International Development Research Centre
"The International Development Research Centre is a public corporation created by the Canadian government to help communities in the developing world find solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems through research."
Institute of Intergovernmental Relations
The Institute of Intergovernmental Relations at Queen's University is Canada's premier university-based centre for research on all aspects of federalism and intergovernmental relations, both in Canada and in countries around the world. Use the menus on the left to navigate our website and the menu on the right to view recent news events.
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
"Organizational Status: Independent institute, founded in 1990.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development meets this challenge by advancing policy recommendations on international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change, measurement and indicators, and natural resource management to make development sustainable. By using Internet communications, we cover and report on international negotiations and broker knowledge gained through collaborative projects with global partners, resulting in more rigorous research, capacity building in developing countries and a better dialogue between North and South."
Canadian Institute of International Affairs
"For 75 years, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs has been providing Canadians with a non-partisan, nationwide forum for the discussion, analysis and debate of international affairs. As a non-profit, non-governmental organization, we are dedicated to helping Canadians obtain a better understanding of foreign policy and global issues through our conferences, seminars, speaker events, publications, and other services that we provide. With 16 branches and a membership of 1,500, the CIIA is the only private, voluntary organisation in Canada concerned with the whole range of global issues, and has established close relations with business, government, the media, universities, opinion leaders, and like-minded institutions throughout Canada and the world."
National Citizens' Coalition
If you believe in free enterprise, individual freedom and personal responsibility under limited government, you've come to the right place. This is the web site of the National Citizens Coalition, Canada's foremost organization for the defence of our basic political and economic freedoms Founded in 1967, the NCC is a registered, non-profit corporation that's independent of all political parties. All of our funding comes from the voluntary support of the more than 40,000 Canadians who share our belief in "more freedom through less government."
The Canadian Labour and Business Centre
"We have built a unique national forum for dialogue and research on Canadian labour market and skills issues.
The Canadian Labour and Business Centre was established in 1984 and has evolved as a centre for business-labour dialogue and consensus building. Effective public policy in labour market and skills issues requires broadly based stakeholder engagement. In addition to labour and business, the Centre enjoys active Board participation from federal, provincial and territorial governments, and from universities and community colleges. This combination has enabled the Centre to build a unique Canadian forum."
North-South Institute
The North-South Institute (NSI) is the only independent research institute in Canada focused on international development. The Institute conducts research on Canada's relations with developing countries and on a wide range of foreign policy issues. Established in 1976, NSI is a non-profit and non-partisan organization.
Canadian Policy Research Networks
"Our mission is to create knowledge and lead public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians. Our goal is to help make Canada a more just, prosperous and caring society."

Note: 2011 CPRN is no longer operating. This archive of research materials will continue to be hosted by Carleton University Library.

The Policy Horizons Canada
".....works to strengthen the federal government's policy research capacity. It is currently focusing on North American Linkages, Social Cohesion and Sustainable Development. Questions include:
In the context of an increasingly integrated North America, what is necessary to maintain Canadians' well being?
What are some of the factors at the individual, community and societal levels that contribute to social inclusion?
What are the challenges associated with implementing sustainable development?"
Centre for Trade Policy and Law
"A Canadian think tank promoting international excellence in international trade policy training and research."
Public Policy Forum
"The Public Policy Forum is a membership-based, neutral, non-profit organization whose mandate is to improve the quality of public policy and public sector management in Canada through multi-sectoral dialogue."
Conference Board of Canada
"The Conference Board of Canada is the foremost independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada. We help build leadership capacity for a better Canada by creating and sharing insights on economic trends, public policy issues, and organizational performance."

CAPPA is an association of schools, programs, and departments across Canada engaged in teaching and research in public administration. It has been in existence for thirty years and its mission is to improve the quality of teaching and research in public administration. It also represents the common interests of college and university-based public administration programs and scholars.

Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX)

APEX, the national association for federal public service executives, fosters excellence in leadership and is a strong advocate on behalf of executive interests. Created in 1984,  the Association focuses on issues such as compensation, the work environment and public service management reform.

APEX is an independent, not-for-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors of federal executives, including regional representatives.

Canadian Urban Institute
The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) is a Toronto-based not for profit organization with a national and international reach. Through our work we seek to create a world of thriving, sustainable, harmonious and engaged urban regions.

Centre d'expertise des grands organismes
Le Centre d’expertise des grands organismes est un lieu d’échange d’où émergent les meilleures pratiques et les dernières tendances en matière de prestation de services aux citoyens. Le Centre d’expertise permet aux huit grands organismes du gouvernement du Québec de partager leurs ressources, leurs expériences et leurs savoirs tout en poursuivant un objectif commun : l’amélioration des services offerts aux citoyens.
Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia
The Institute of Asian Research is a leader in research and teaching that combines interdisciplinary perspectives  with deep knowledge of Asia to contribute to policy issues and public understanding.   

Public Policy Forum

The Public Policy Forum is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of government in Canada through enhanced dialogue among the public, private and voluntary sectors.  It is a  neutral, non-partisan, non-governmental and independent which facilitates open and frank dialogue and discussion among leaders from all sectors.

Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre
Queen’s IRC open programs and practice-based research help next-generation leaders champion change, resolve disputes, and align people and purpose.

Links to Other Think Tanks

National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA)

University of Michigan - Political Science Resources - Think Tanks