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Regent Debate: Should Western Democracies Establish a Universal Basic Income

The C.D. Howe Institute is delighted to announce the launch of The Regent Debate series with a cocktail reception - where experts will face-off on the critical question: "Should Western democracies, such as Canada, establish a universal basic income to help their citizens cope with the disruptive effect of new technologies and artificial intelligence?”

Post-Event Summary

The Institute’s Regent Debate series has been made possible through a generous donation by Aaron and Heather Regent.

The Affirmative

Paul Begala, Political Commentator, CNN, and Former Aide to President Clinton

Paul Begala is a commentator for CNN, where he is part of the political team that has won both an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award. In the 2012 campaign, he was a senior adviser for the pro-Obama Super PAC, making Begala one of the few people to play a critical role in electing two different presidents.

After helping engineer Bill Clinton's presidential campaign with his partner, James Carville, Begala served as counselor to the President, one of Clinton's closest aides. He has consulted for political campaigns across the country and around the world, including advising politicians in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

Former President Bill Clinton described his longtime friend and former aide as, "a witty dynamo from Sugar Land, Texas...who brought energy, focus and credibility to our efforts." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Begala, "embodies a passion for populism with a commitment to civility, no easy feat."

And radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has said of Begala, "If you don't know who The Forehead is, Paul Begala, he's the guy, the kid that played the banjo on the bridge in the movie Deliverance."

He helped his friend John F. Kennedy, Jr. launch the political magazine George and wrote the "Capitol Hillbilly" column, and is the author of several New York Times best-selling political books.

Begala is an affiliated professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He has also taught at the University of Texas and the University of Georgia. Along with James Carville and GOP strategist Karl Rove, he was a recently inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants' Hall of Fame.

Begala received his bachelor's degree in Government and his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the student body president.

Hugh Segal, Principal, Massey College, and Former Senator

The fifth elected Principal of Massey College, Mr. Segal has spent his career in public service political roles, as Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs) in Ontario and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.  In Ontario, he was involved in the negotiations to patriate the Canadian constitution and create the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  He chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism between 2005 and 2014.  He served as Canada's Special Envoy to the Commonwealth and a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on reform and modernization, human rights and rule of law. A former President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal, a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Queen's School of Policy Studies and the Smith School of Business at Queen's University, Hugh holds honorary doctorates from the Royal Military College of Canada and the University of Ottawa. He is Co-Chair of the Democracy-10 Strategy Group based at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Chair of the NATO Association of Canada, and is now the Honorary Captain of the Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto.  He has written books on public policy, politics, and international affairs, of which the most recent, "Two Freedoms: Canada's Global Future" was published last year by Dundurn Press. He is a strategic advisor at the law firm of Aird and Berlis, LLP, and has been a director of public and private companies in the alcohol, food, construction, financial and energy sectors. He is married to Donna Armstrong Segal, Queen’s University Nursing Science ‘73.

The Negative

Conrad Black, Founder, National Post

Conrad Black is a financier and author and columnist in a large number of publications in Canada, the US, and the UK, including the National Post and National Review Online (New York). He is the author of biographies of Maurice Duplessis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard M. Nixon, a strategic history of the United States (Flight of the Eagle), and Rise to Greatness, the History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present. His most recent book is a collection of his columns and essays titled Backward Glances, published by Random House-McCLelland & Stewart.

In the next two months his book A President Like No Other: The Trump Phenomenon will be published. He was the publisher of the London (UK) Telegraph newspapers and Spectator from 1987 to 2004, and controlled many other newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post and the National Post, which he founded. He is honorary chairman of Conrad Black Capital Corporation and has been a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour since 2001, and is a Knight of the Holy See.

Dr. Janice MacKinnon, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Order of Canada, and a former Saskatchewan Finance Minister

Janice MacKinnon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Order of Canada, and a former Saskatchewan Finance Minister. She has a PhD and M.A. from Queen’s University and an Honours B.A. from the University of Western Ontario She is the author of three books, The Liberty We Seek published by Harvard University Press, While the Women Only Wept and Minding the Public Purse and she has written many articles on public policy issues.  She has also served as the Chair of the Board of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a board member of the Canada West Foundation and is currently an advisor to the Eco-Fiscal Commission. Between 1991 and 2001 she was a cabinet minister in Saskatchewan and held various portfolios including Minister of Finance, Minister of Social Services, Minister of Economic Development, and Government House leader.  During her tenure as Finance Minister Saskatchewan became the first government in Canada to balance its budget in the 1990s.  She is an Executive Fellow at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy and Professor of fiscal policy at the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan. She also provides commentary and analysis of Canadian fiscal issues, health policy and politics.   She was a member of the National Task Force on Financial Literacy.  She also served as Chair of Canada’s Economic Advisory Council from 2010 to 2015.  In 2013, she was chosen as one of Canada’s top 25 Women of Influence.