“Does Canadian culture still need protecting? ” A debate about culture, patriotism, and Canada’s place in the world

National Gallery of Canada


  • Governor General’s Literary Award–winner Charles Foran
  • Trudeau Doctoral Scholar Sara Angel
  • Author and critic Randy Boyagoda
  • Host of CBC Radio’s The Signal, Laurie Brown

Peter Simpson, arts editor and writer for the Ottawa Citizen, will moderate this lively debate, and will be joined by provocateurs including National Gallery of Canada director and CEO, Marc Mayer, and online rabble-rousers via the Walrus Soapbox.

Sara Angel is a Trudeau Doctoral Scholar at the University of Toronto. She is one of Canada’s leading visual arts journalists, and writes frequently for publications including The Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Art, and the Globe and Mail. Angel is also a co-founder of the Art Canada Institute/Institut de l’art Canadien, dedicated to the teaching and promotion of Canadian art history. She has had an extensive career in arts journalism and publishing, as a commentator for CBC Television’s On the Arts, an editor for Saturday Night, a columnist for the National Post, and the editor-in-chief of Chatelaine. In 2011, Samara named John Duffy’s Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership, and the Making of Canada, which was created under Angel’s editorial and art direction, one of the best Canadian political books of the last twenty-five years.

Charles Foran is an author, commentator, and journalist, as well as the president of PEN Canada and a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. Born and raised in Toronto, he holds degrees from the University of Toronto and University College Dublin, and has taught in China, Hong Kong, and Canada. He has published ten books, including four novels, and has won awards for his fiction, non-fiction, and journalism. He is a contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail, and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Foran has also made documentaries for CBC Radio One’s Ideas, and co-wrote the TV documentary Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews. Foran’s 2010 biography of Richler, Mordecai: The Life and Times, received the Charles Taylor Prize, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction.

Writer, critic, and scholar Randy Boyagoda is chair of the English department at Ryerson University in Toronto and a professor of American studies. He is the author of two novels. His first book, Governor of the Northern Province, was longlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His second book, Beggar’s Feast, was published to ongoing critical acclaim around the world: it has been longlisted for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and selected as a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice. Boyagoda, currently at work on a biography of the neo-conservative Catholic priest and public intellectual Richard John Neuhaus, has written for publications including The Walrus, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s. He is also a frequent contributor to CBC Radio and vice-president of PEN Canada. Born in Oshawa, he lives in Toronto with his wife and four daughters.

Laurie Brown is host of The Signal, a new CBC Radio 2 program with an emphasis on contemporary Canadian music. A passionate advocate of the arts, she has built a reputation as an accomplished interviewer and seasoned broadcaster by bringing out the best in Canadian artists. She joined CBC in 1990 as an arts journalist, having previously worked as a co-host and associate producer of Citytv’s The New Music and as a VJ on Much Music. She has since hosted CBC Newsworld’s On the Arts for four seasons, and been a senior arts correspondent for CBC News. Brown is the author of Success Without College: Days and Nights in Rock ’n Roll Television, published by Penguin Books in 1994. She is currently finishing her second book, a novel.

Simultaneous French translation provided.

The Walrus Fourth Annual National Gallery Debate