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Is Democracy Dying? – First Amendment Days 2018

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John Whyte Public Lecture

First Amendment Days Series

Democracy relies on civility and sustains political stability through relationships – ones built on consent, freedom, accountability and social responsibility. But even with its successful track record, democracy seems to be at risk. It is coping poorly with novel personalities, unequal distribution, poor manners, deep ethnic and social divisions, changes in communications systems and shifts in legal and political morals. History is full of revolutionary transformations. Is this what democracy now faces?


John Whyte was educated at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Harvard Law School. He was a member of the Queen’s University Faculty of Law for 28 years, serving as its Dean from 1987 to 1992. He has also taught at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University and at the University of Toronto Faculty of law, and at Niigata University, Tilburg University and the University of Melbourne. He was the Douglas McK. Brown Visiting Professor at University of British Columbia and held the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

He has been awarded an honorary degree by York University.

His public service career includes serving as the Director of Constitutional Law for the Government of Saskatchewan during national constitutional negotiations from 1979 to 1982. In this position, he participated in the drafting of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, including the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also served as Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney-General from 1997 to 2002. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of constitutional cases.

He has also been part of constitutional reform processes in the Republic of Georgia, Nepal and Vietnam.


The First Amendment Days celebration is hosted by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State Daily Media Group and the Leo Mores chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.