Cover: Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality by Edward Broadbent, Frances Abele, Jonathan Sas and Luke Savage

Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality

Broadbent, Edward, Frances Abele, Jonathan Sas, Luke Savage

  • The first full-length treatment of Ed Broadbent’s ideas and remarkable seven-decade engagement in public life

    Part memoir, part history, part political manifesto, Seeking Social Democracy offers the first full-length treatment of Ed Broadbent’s ideas and remarkable seven-decade engagement in public life. In dialogue with three collaborators from different generations, Broadbent leads readers through a life spent fighting for equality in Parliament and beyond: exploring the formation of his social democratic ideals, his engagement on the international stage, and his relationships with historical figures from Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro to Tommy Douglas, René Lévesque, and Willy Brandt. From the formative minority Parliament of 1972–1974 to the contentious national debate over Canada’s constitution to the free trade election of 1988, the book chronicles the life and thought of one of Canada’s most respected political leaders and public intellectuals from his childhood in 1930s Oshawa to the present day. Broadbent’s analysis also points toward the future, offering lessons to a new generation on how principles can inform action and social democracy can look beyond neoliberalism. The result is an engaging, timely, and sweeping analysis of Canadian politics, philosophy, and the nature of democratic leadership.


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  • Ed Broadbent PC CC was the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party from 1975 to 1989 and member of Parliament for Oshawa (1968–1990) and Ottawa Centre (2004–2006). Before his entry into politics, he taught political theory at York University. He was vice president of the Socialist International from 1979 to 1989 and director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development from 1990 to 1996. In 2011, he was the founding chair of the Broadbent Institute. He was appointed a member of the Privy Council by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1982 and in 2001 received the highest civilian honour when he was made Companion of the Order of Canada. He is the editor of Democratic Inequality: What Went Wrong? and a frequent author of newspaper and magazine opinion articles.

    Frances Abele CM is Distinguished Research Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy Emerita at Carleton University. She is a research fellow at the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation and the Broadbent Institute. Much of her work focuses on Indigenous-Canada relations.

    Jonathan Sas has worked in senior policy and political roles in government, think tanks, and the labour movement. He is an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post, The Tyee, and Maisonneuve Magazine.

    Luke Savage is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Jacobin, the New Statesman, the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Literary Review of Canada. His first book, The Dead Center, was published in 2022.

  • Published: October 2023

    ISBN: 9781770417380

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 328

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“Through conversations with leading progressive thinkers from different generations, this compelling book paints a vivid vision of social democracy on the canvas of the remarkable life and work of one of Canada's preeminent social democrats, Ed Broadbent.” — Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

“We should all be grateful that Ed Broadbent has chosen to provide his reflections on his career and his advice for future generations of the Left. In the pages of this memoir, we can read, feel, and hear Ed’s profound decency, thoughtfulness, humanity, and wisdom. Read this book and you will be inspired by someone who has dedicated his life to seeking to improve the lives of Canadians and citizens across the world.” — Ed Miliband MP, Former Leader of the U.K. Labour Party

“An interesting and instructive read about the history and contemporary reality of social progressivism in Canada, from one of its singular leaders.” — Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, OBC, KC

“The insights in this unique, deeply personal writing will have you turning page after page, wanting more. It affirmed my beliefs about what we are fighting for and why.” — Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East 1997–2015 and author of Outside In

“Readers seeking a comprehensive overview of the philosophies and achievements of former New Democratic Party leader and long-time advocate of social democracy Ed Broadbent will find Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality a good place to start … Reading Seeking Social Democracy gave me a deeper respect for the scope of Broadbent’s achievements and a better understanding of his beliefs and philosophies.” — The Miramichi Reader

“This book tells the story of an exceptional politician: a social-democratic leader who is also a very insightful political theorist. Indeed, Ed Broadbent could have had a stellar academic career. The result is a rare account of political life, and its dilemmas, forged by both practical experience and deep theoretical reflection.” — Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University

“Ed Broadbent and his colleagues have produced a welcome if uncommon book for our troubled times: a hopeful conversation across three generations about what it will take to build a future where we might live in harmony with one another and with nature. It is also a book about the leadership we need to get there: honest, humble, respectful, and with a passionate commitment to democracy, equality, and human rights — the kind of leadership Ed Broadbent exemplifies.” — Alex Himelfarb, Former Clerk of the Privy Council and Chair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, National

Seeking Social Democracy is an excellent read and a major contribution to social democratic theory and practice. Ed Broadbent somehow manages to be simultaneously a tough partisan and a genial intellectual of high principle: politically pugnacious and a deep thinker who also respects conservative and liberal ideas and principles.” — Andrew Jackson, economist and author of Fire and the Ashes

“Each contributor has a gift for taking difficult, sometimes abstract or arcane matters and bringing them down to earth, making them accessible and imparting matters from even decades ago a fresh, even pressing significance. The book is utterly fascinating, utterly reasonable and utterly required reading.” — The Tyee